OU only school to receive full foundation grant in 2009
OU receives $500K grant from Ernst and Young
Elizabeth Nalewajk, The Oklahoma Daily
A $500,000 grant from the Ernst and Young Foundation will launch a program to attract more students into the field of oil and gas accounting.
The program creates two new classes, one for undergraduate students and one for graduate students, along with an internship program. It also endows $100,000 of scholarships for students that are interested in pursuing careers in energy accounting, and will create the Ernst and Young Learning Center, a room in Evans Hall for the program.
“We have the energy management program here, we have a concentration in the MBA program in energy. And, of course we have petroleum engineering here,” said Terry Crain, associate professor of accounting. “And so [the Ernst and Young Foundation] thought it would be a natural fit if we did something in oil and gas accounting,”
“We wanted to invest where some of our best and brightest students come fromsaid Ryan Burke, an Ernst and Young partner in Dallas. “One of the things we’re hoping that this does is get folks more interested in energy accounting.”
Students with knowledge and an interest in oil and gas accounting are in particular demand.
“What we’ve found is that there’s been a shortage of students entering the energy accounting industry itself,” Burke said. “Whether it’s with the big four [accounting companies] , or it’s within one of the large oil and gas companies. One of the things we’re trying to do is encourage people and say ‘Hey, this industry is a large career.’ It’s probably, the No. 1 — from an industry stand point — employer in this part of the country.”
The Ernst and Young Foundation gives universities up to $500,000 to establish programs in specific areas. OU was the only school to receive the full amount in 2009.
The program begins in the fall, with Crain teaching the undergraduate class. He will teach the first graduate-level class in the spring.
Crain estimated that 25 students had already enrolled for the fall. He said that each class can hold 48 students, but he expects about 30 students in each class.
Another part of the program will fund a student researcher who will work with Crain in reviewing disclosures in the financial statements issued by publicly-traded energy companies. The rules surrounding those disclosures changed in the wake of the Enron scandal.
Accounting practices in the energy field offer other challenges besides those presented by new rules.
“The way that companies do it, is instead of taking 100 percent of the deal, they will share so that everybody takes a quarter of this deal and a quarter of another deal,” Crain said. “So you’ll see one large oil company partnering with another one to develop a field. All of those transactions are very complicated, and the accounting for them are complicated.”
The grant from Ernst and Young will fund all parts of the program, except the permanently endowed scholarships, for 10 years.
“If we’ve had quite a few students ... getting good jobs, the firms are really looking forward to being able to come here and recruit the students in this particular area, then I would assume that the university or the college would be able to continue it,” Crain said. ”But, you know how the oil and gas industry is, though. It goes up, it goes down At the end of the 10-year period, if we happen to be at a trough point in the oil and gas industry, the answer might be different than if we were in a boom period.”