News from the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy

A New Strategic Plan

Don Whitmire opened the Dec. 3 strategic planning retreat, held at The Mill Conference Center.

The stated mission of the Adkerson School of Accountancy is to prepare students for successful careers in accounting and business by fostering an environment that promotes innovative teaching and curricula, high-quality research, collaborative relationships and service. Succeeding in this mission requires thoughtful, detailed planning and focused adherence to the resulting blueprint.

Through group discussions, retreat participants offered input about goals and action items.

This spring sees the implementation of a new five-year plan for the School, a plan developed over many months beginning during the summer of 2021. Key leaders of the process were ASAC Advisory Council Chair Don Whitmire and ASAC Director Dr. Shawn Mauldin, as well as the Advisory Council Strategic Planning Committee and the Faculty Strategic Planning Committee.

“Our first step was to send a professionally prepared video from Don and me to key stakeholders,” says Mauldin. “In it, we not only covered the prior strategic plan and performance related to it, we also shared the purpose and timeline of the upcoming planning process.”

The next step was a broad-based online survey designed to highlight respondents’ perceptions of the School’s strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats (SWOT) facing it. Those surveyed included faculty, alumni, graduate and undergraduate students, employers, Advisory Council members and staff involved in recruitment, advancement, development and career services.

Dr. Luke Cashen, a professional facilitator and Nicholls State University senior business faculty member, was engaged to help analyze and summarize the results. Cashen and Mauldin presented the findings at a retreat on December 3, 2021, in Starkville. Some 64 stakeholders attended, and through interacting in small and large groups, they created a prioritized listing of the key SWOT elements and ideas to address each of these.

“Stakeholder engagement is critical because it provides for diverse and unique insights into ASAC’s continued success, translating into a stronger and more effective strategic plan,” comments Cashen. “Additionally, having buy-in from these stakeholders allows for them to be stronger advocates for ASAC and the execution of its strategic plan, mission and vision.

“During the retreat in December, I was particularly impressed with the high level of pride and ownership exhibited by all stakeholders as relates to ASAC and its success – the School is personal to them. I must also acknowledge two individuals: Shawn Mauldin and Don Whitmire. Their leadership has been incredible. They have invested countless hours from the beginning of this planning process to ensure it would be done right.”

“The strategic planning process is a unique time when core assumptions and goals that guide the Adkerson School of Accountancy are up for debate,” observes alumnus and participant Geoffrey Taylor, Senior Associate (SOC Reporting) at Schellman & Company, LLC. “I’m able to provide firsthand knowledge of today’s job market from the perspective of a young professional, and I’m passionate about connecting our accounting students with this kind of career information early and often. It’s a privilege to be involved in the process, and I’m excited to see the lasting impact of the new strategic plan.”

“As a student, it meant a lot to me to participate in the process because it showed that the School cares deeply about student input and believes that a diversity of opinions and backgrounds is crucial,” says graduate student Seth Germ. “Having that seat at the table was important, as it allowed for the students to express their concerns and the student point of view. We were able to help create a new plan to serve students in the years to come in their academic careers, as we have been served.”

After the retreat, Mauldin distilled the SWOT listing and ideas into a draft five-year strategic plan that was reviewed and approved by the participants. The finalized strategic plan was approved on February 3.

“Going forward, our Advisory Council will review and ensure its committee structure is aligned with the strategic plan, with each committee developing and pursuing relevant actionable plans to achieve the plan’s goals over the next several years,” states Chairman Whitmire, the Vice President and Controller for Freeport McMoRan Inc. “While the process of creating the new strategic plan was perhaps made more difficult by the pandemic, we have benefited greatly from the active collaboration of all involved to come up with a reality-based, action-focused plan that will help the School continue to grow and excel in its mission over the next five years.”

Read the 2022-2026 ASAC Strategic plan HERE.