MACPA high school leaders conference

Inspiring and educating the next generation of young accountants—that was the goal and the outcome of the recent Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants High School Leaders Conference, held at the Fetzer Center on Western Michigan University’s campus.


Students spent the morning and early afternoon in educational sessions exploring topics such as being successful in college as an accounting major, different career paths for a Certified Public Accountant, and how to manage personal finances. Then, they embarked on a tour of the college of business, learning more about the undergraduate program and specifically the Department of Accountancy.More than 150 high school students from 12 high schools attended the conference, which featured a variety of sessions presented by Department of Accountancy faculty and students. The WMU-sponsored program had the largest attendance in the State of Michigan this year.

Dr. Ola Smith, associate professor of accountancy and the project manager for the conference on WMU’s end, is gratified to see the excitement of the young business students, many of whom decide to come to WMU as a result of their experiences with the program. “Two of the WMU students who helped this year were originally students who came to the conference in high school,” says Smith. “It is great to see them flourishing at Western and giving back to the MACPA organization.”


Dr. Donald Gribbin, chair of the Department of Accountancy, sees the MACPA High School Leaders Conference as a win-win-win for area schools, WMU and the accounting field. “Being able to connect talented young students with accountancy professors, college students and professionals is critical to growing the number of highly qualified accountants in the state,” says Gribbin. “We greatly value our partnership with MACPA on all levels, and this conference is a wonderful example of this partnership. Dr. Smith has been instrumental in developing the relationships that have resulted in such a successful conference.”

WMU’s accountancy program is among fewer than 1% of business schools worldwide that have additional specialized AACSB accreditation. Learn more at