Beta Alpha Psi Wins Prestigious Ethics Award

Since 1965 BYU's Gamma Alpha chapter of Beta Alpha Psi has been serving on campus and in the Provo community. This year it reached out to a new audience — local high school students — a move that made it stand out from 270 international applicants to win $5,000 and the first-ever Beta Alpha Psi 2011 Ethics Award.

"We wanted to extend to high school students because we felt that accounting and other financial service careers aren't always discussed with that age group," says Mike Larkin, a recent BYU master of accountancy graduate who headed the project. "We thought that hosting a learning activity for high school students would really make an impact."

Beta Alpha Psi brought together seven teams from two high schools to compete in an ethics case study competition. The teams were given resources to formulate a written answer that was judged by chapter members.

Larkin says reactions from the students were positive. Before the competition, many thought that financial work was all about punching numbers and making reports, but students learned that there is a lot of ethical judgment that goes into the decisions an accountant makes.

"From an accounting point of view, ethics really holds together the integrity of our financial system,"           

Larkin says. "Accountants need to know that their numbers are accurate and represent what they are supposed to represent. Ethics is essential from both investors and from the public sector."

The outcomes of the competition, which included a greater awareness of ethics for chapter members and participants as well as increased knowledge of ethical dilemmas in the accounting field, were contributing factors to winning the award.

This competition is one of many things Beta Alpha Psi does to fulfill its purposes of serving the community and providing students an opportunity to increase their professional skills. Cassy Budd, accounting professor and Beta Alpha Psi adviser, says that the students feel a responsibility to give back to the community using the skills they've acquired in school. In addition to allocating their $5,000 winnings to expanding the case competition for next year, BAP has also taught mini finance classes to troubled youth and conducted VITA labs that assist people with their taxes free of charge.

"As the adviser, I love watching students have an idea and take the initiative to do something new and different," Budd says. "Because they're passionate about these important issues, things happen."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Tori Ackerman