When in 2018 CSUN’s Department of Accounting and Information Systems earned a spot in College Choice’s roundup of the best accounting programs in the nation, it affirmed that the program has had an exceptional impact on the region and beyond.
A longtime powerhouse of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, the department has evolved over six decades to offer a number of degrees: bachelor’s degrees in accountancy and information systems, a minor in information systems and master’s degrees in accountancy and taxation.
More than 20 percent of all managing partners in the top 100 public accounting firms in the L.A. region are CSUN alumni. Additionally, CSUN had more winners and finalists in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2018 Chief Financial Officer of the Year Awards than any other university — two of the seven winners and two additional finalists were CSUN alumni.
In recent years, the department became one of CSUN’s most competitive and selective majors, according to Nazarian College Dean Chandra Subramaniam. The dean attributes the success of the department largely to its faculty.
“Our faculty are dedicated to making sure that our students and our graduates have the skills needed to compete in the current marketplace,” Subramaniam said. “None of this growth would be possible without the leadership we have in the accounting department.”
Part of the curriculum is aimed at providing students hands-on experience with complex issues they’ll see in their accounting careers. This practical approach is best exemplified by the Nazarian College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic, which provides free tax preparation assistance to low-income families and individuals. The clinic is led and managed by the department.
Approximately 400 universities nationwide operate VITA clinics, and in 2019, the Nazarian College’s clinic was ranked No. 1 based on the number of low-income taxpayers served, Subramaniam said.
In 2015, the CSUN clinic assisted about 370 low-income individuals. By 2018, the clinic had expanded its services to help more than 7,500 clients in Greater Los Angeles file their taxes — resulting in more than $11 million in tax refunds and $1 million in savings for tax preparation.
In the 2019 tax season, 514 CSUN VITA volunteers helped more than 8,700 low-income individuals file their taxes, which resulted in more than $10 million in federal and state refunds, more than $4.8 million in tax credits and more than $1.8 million in savings for tax preparation. Students powered this program by offering the tax-filing service at 22 sites in Los Angeles County.
Nazarian College tax graduate students, in conjunction with the Bookstein Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, also provide free representation to low-income taxpayers facing tax disputes with the IRS. The clinic offered consultation to more than 300 tax payers in 2018. As a result, tax liabilities, penalties and interest were decreased by more than $1 million for the taxpayers.
A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE
The accounting department’s efforts have long resulted in a high-caliber education for its graduates.
“I can’t think of any of my accounting professors who weren’t consistently high quality,” said Charles “Chuck” Noski ’73 (Business Administration), M.S. ’95 (Accountancy) ’07 (Honorary Doctorate), namesake of the Nazarian College’s Charles H. Noski Auditorium. “They were excited about teaching and got you excited about learning — it was a great experience.”
Alumnus Harvey Bookstein ’70 (Business Administration) agreed, noting that the campus gave him access to a great education from great professors, as well as the opportunity to network with prominent professionals in the accounting realm.
Bookstein is a partner at Armanino LLP, one of the top 25 largest independent ac- counting and business consulting firms in the United States. Armanino, Bookstein said, hires many Matadors and appreciates what CSUN does to equip students with the skill-set necessary to succeed in their careers. In 2017, in honor of Bookstein and his wife, Harriet, also an alumna, and their generous support of CSUN over the years, CSUN renamed the building that houses the Nazarian College as Bookstein Hall.
MATADORS HELPING MATADORS
The second key component the accounting department — housed in Bookstein Hall — instills in its students, Subramaniam said, is networking. The department hosts a biannual “Meet the Firms” event, during which 700 CSUN accounting and information systems students meet with and talk to approximately 300 accounting professionals from 100 firms.
Rishma Vedd, chair of the department, said that there is significant interest from the top accounting firms to recruit accounting students from CSUN, based on factors including its curriculum, activities and involvement from many parties. “We have dedicated alumni, employers and members of the department’s advisory board, who continuously work with us to ensure our graduates are well prepared for the rapidly changing fields of accounting and information systems,” she said.
Accounting and Information Systems maintains its powerhouse status through the stellar caliber of education, experience and networking provided to students by faculty and staff. “Accounting is considered to be the college’s premier program, primarily because it has played such a significant part in terms of where our students are placed within public accounting and industries,” the dean said.
Alumni from the department acknowledge and appreciate the efforts continuously made by their professors and are grateful for the education they received.
“I know I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did professionally without Cal State Northridge,” Noski said. “And that’s why I think all of us come back and give to the department.”