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JMU Accounting Students Receive First Place Once Again

Goodman & Company, the largest certified public accounting firm based in Virginia, announced its sponsorship of the second annual Goodman Accounting Challenge. In September, the company expanded the competition from 49 to 95 invited universities and colleges throughout Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Eleven teams registered from eight colleges and universities for the opportunity to be a recognized, promote the profession, win individual prizes, win awards for schools, and network with professionals and other students. Each team must consist of up to four undergraduate accounting students, one of which must be a junior, and a moderator or administrator as chaperone. JMU's first place team, led by professor Sandy Cereloa, consisted of the following outstanding accounting students: Felix von Lepel (Beta Alpha Psi President), Jennifer Wange (Member of the Student Advisory Board for COB), Matthew Reddy (President of IMA), Teresa Hilliard, and Ben Hawkins as an alternate.  The challenge was designed as a case study that challenged junior and senior accounting majors to solve complex accounting problems based on the day-to-day experiences in public accounting. The problems were drawn from actual past Goodman & Company client experiences and included questions concerning such issues as interest rate swaps, changes in accounting methods, and deferred income taxes. In order to narrow the competition for the "Final Challenge", a pre- qualifying test that simulates today's challenges in public accounting was e-mailed to students at 9:00 am on October 4. The four highest scoring teams were James Madison University, Salisbury University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia College at Wise.

The "Final Challenge", held the weekend of November 8th, involved taking an additional six-hour exam. Tests were scored and judged by a panel of Goodman & Company partners and managers consisting of: Hugh Barlow, Mitch Bean, Scott Brezler, David Rippy, Rich Pontynen, and George Walker.  Each student received $250 and JMU received $2500.  Check out the story on Goodman's web site at

Here is what the students said about the competition:

"I think our team had a lot of fun meeting the Goodman Challenge. We really enjoyed the social events as well as the opportunity to compete against other accounting students from various schools." ~ Teresa Hilliard

"The Goodman challenge was one of the best experiences for me here at JMU. To be put in a competition without text books and instead real life accounting sources, while allowing me and our team the opportunity to prove our competence in the material was wonderful. Winning the competition allowed me to fully realize how lucky I am to be receiving my education from James Madison. I really appreciate the opportunity that I had to experience this event and most importantly appreciate the other individuals on the team who made it the experience that it was. A big thank you goes out also to Professor Cereola for taking the time to be our advisor, feed us, and motivate us through the whole process. I think it speaks volumes for James Madison that we are two for two in winning this competition!" ~ Jen Wange

"We have a really great accounting program including both the professors and the students. I really enjoyed working with our team." ~ Matt Reddy

"I think that the Goodman Challenge is great event that promotes excellence in the accounting profession. It is an opportunity for the students to show their expertise in the field of accounting beyond the classroom experience. Personally, the Goodman Challenge was an invaluable experience for me, as I had the chance to talk to professionals from Goodman & Company and students from other Colleges. I am very proud of my team members and happy that we succeeded in coming in first ONCE AGAIN. In addition, I would like to thank my team for their hard work and perseverance. They all contributed in making the event fun and memorable. Finally, I would like to thank the accounting faculty for their efforts in teaching us relevant accounting principles! This is the 2nd time that JMU has won this challenge and this proves to me that the accounting program here at JMU is definitely a strong one and one that prepares us to compete against top schools such as William & Mary, and Virginia Tech. I am proud of my JMU accounting degree."~ Felix von Lepel