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Student Research Informs Rules of Professional Conduct

Aug 23, 2021
5 min Read
Colin Fitzgerald and Matthew Fredricks

Two accelerated MAC students from the Heider College of Business at Creighton University contribute to the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy task force charged with revising the state accounting profession’s code of ethics.

Colin Fitzgerald, BSBA’21, MAC’21

“It does not get any more real world,” says Dan Sweetwood, executive director of Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy.

Sweetwood is referring to the contribution two Creighton students have made to the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy (NSBPA) task force dedicated to revising the rules of professional conduct for Nebraska certified public accountants (CPAs).  

Colin Fitzgerald, BSBA’21, MAC’21, and Matthew Fredricks, BSBA’21, MAC’21, presented research from the accelerated Master of Accounting course Research and Analysis of Ethical Issues in the Accounting Profession, which required students to research the similarities and differences between the accounting code of conduct of a state of their choosing, the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and the IESBA International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants.

Tom Purcell, PhD, CPA, JD, professor of accounting at the Heider College of Business, taught the course during the spring semester. He also chairs the special task force that is exploring how the NSBPA should adjust its code of professional conduct for Nebraska CPAs to align more with the AICPA Code of Conduct. This initiative closely resembled the research project from his advanced accounting course.

Matthew Fredricks, BSBA’21, MAC’21

As both Fitzgerald and Fredricks were working in Nebraska after graduation, they focused on Nebraska’s code of conduct. Impressed with their scholarship, Purcell asked them to synthesize their findings and present to the NSBPA task force in June. It was a perfect example of the Heider Mindset Curriculum’s Analytical Mindset, which encourages students to think critically, analyze risk and sort through and visualize data to enhance decision making, Purcell says. 
“Due to their hard work and quick understanding of the issues involved in this review, their project was approved to kick off the task force’s work,” Sweetwood says. “I was very impressed and a little taken aback in that we probably could not have developed a better kick-off presentation. Hats off to both of them. Creighton should be very proud.” 

“The task force is determining what ethical standards every practicing accountant in Nebraska will be bound by in one way, shape or form for the foreseeable future,” Fitzgerald says. “When I realized that, it reinforced what I already knew: That Creighton was the best university that I could have attended, both for personal and professional growth.” 

He says the research turned out to be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of his Creighton years. He is extremely gratified that the work met with such approval, especially considering accomplished professionals of the accounting, legal and academic fields populate the task force. 

“That I was not only granted a seat at this table but also a voice is a tremendous honor,” says Fitzgerald, adding, “I now have expanded my professional network as well as attached my name to something that will have long-lasting effects on the profession to which I have just entered.”
Fitzgerald is currently an audit associate with Seim Johnson, LLP, in Elkhorn. Fredricks is employed at KPMG’s Omaha office as an auditor.