Dr. Kevin James was asked to consider what the CPA Evolution will mean to minority students, as part of the Annual Meeting’s panel session moderated by Education Committee Chair Stephanie Saunders (VA). Dr. James, who is Dean of the Deese College of Business at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, detailed some of the steps his school has taken to make it a top producer of African-American CPAs. In 2019 there were 29 candidates from NCATSU who took the Uniform CPA Examination. US News and World Report ranked it as the number one business college of the public historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). He credited the school’s success to “mitigating systemic barriers” (see chart on right).

Specifically, the NCATSU attracts underrepresented students by: conducting a Student Ambassadors Program that enlists its current students to speak to high school students; holding Accounting Career Awareness Workshops; supporting the AICPA diversity programs; conducting week-long residential summer programs for high achieving high school students; and using services from the State Society.

Overall, HBCUs “are already under-resourced and allocate more resources proportionately to addressing systemic barriers,” Dr. James said, but he did not think the CPA Evolution initiative would create new barriers to the profession for minority students: It would “amplify other constraints.” He noted: “CPA Evolution will require additional resources for business colleges (e.g., more technology courses, specialized faculty, etc.). Many HBCUs will face challenges dedicating adequate resources to making CPA Evolution adjustments.” He encouraged the profession to study the challenges faced and their implications on meeting their diversity goals.

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