Finance Faculty Update

Finance faculty are continuing their commitment to excellence in the Orfalea College of Business and beyond.


Larry Gorman

Professor Larry Gorman became one of the first-ever recipients of the Jacobsen Faculty Fellowship, alongside fellow professors Eduardo Zambrano (economics) and Chris Carr (accounting and law). Gorman was selected for the fellowship by a four-person Dean’s Advisory Council committee for his outstanding efforts to inspire students. Gorman has paved the way for strong industry connections between finance students and major employers in the high-tech sector, including leaders like Apple.



Cyrus RamezaniFinance professor and former area chair Cyrus Ramezani has been appointed interim department chair for Agribusiness Department in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. Ramezani brings extensive hands-on experience to the position, including his Ph.D. in agricultural and resources economics from UC Berkeley and extensive research in the field. Ramezani’s appointment follows the retirement of the Agribusiness Department’s Jay Noel. Ramezani continues to teach finance courses in the Orfalea College of Business, including the Student Managed Portfolio Project, during this temporary appointment.



Pratish PatelProfessor Pratish Patel is also sharing his finance knowledge across Cal Poly’s campus. Patel served as a mentor to an interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly business,s architecture and construction management students competing at the recent 2016 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Residential Construction Management Competition. His expertise helped the team finish in second place out of 37 universities across the nation. He worked with the team as they prepared for the critical finance and business portions of the comprehensive building planning project.



Brian AyashProfessor Brian Ayash has led finance students through the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Challenge course. In December 2015, 14 Cal Poly students took the Level 1 exam with a pass rate of 57 percent. The rate yet again bested the international average of 43 percent. Ayash says another group of 25 students will take the exam in June. Cal Poly’s CFA Challenge is a senior project course that devotes a year to preparing seniors to sit for the certification that is often considered the gold-standard in the finance profession. Thanks to Learn by Doing preparation, Cal Poly students have a long history of surpassing international averages for the CFA exam.



Area Chair John DobsonFinance Area Chair John Dobson has continued his research surrounding aesthetics and business. He recently published the article “Heidegger’s Critique of Technology and the Contemporary Return to Artisan Business Activity” in the journal Philosophy of Management. Dobson was a featured speaker at a symposium hosted by University of Wisconsin’s School of Business on Beauty in Business. The title of his presentation was Dwelling Poetically: An Aesthetic Justification for Teaching Art in Business School. Professor Dobson also presented a similar paper this summer at the Philosophy of Management Conference at Oxford University, UK.

Accounting Faculty Updates

1-bordemanArea Welcomes New Faculty

The Accounting Area welcomed two outstanding new faculty, Adam Bordeman and Kim Westermann, for the 2015-16 academic year.

Dr. Adam Bordeman considers the Learn by Doing philosophy essential to the study of accounting, and enjoys teaching at all levels of the college. He brings his work experience as both an auditor and an accountant in private industry into his teaching. This approach earned him the Leeds School of Business Ph.D. Teaching Award during his doctoral studies. His research and teaching focuses on financial accounting and reporting. Specifically, he values the role that accounting plays in defining relationships between firms. Dr. Bordeman received his B.S. and M.S.A. from Marquette University and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

2-westermannDr. Kim Westermann graduated from Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 2000. She worked for Ernst & Young in San Jose, Calif. as an audit senior before relocating to New York City, taking a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, ending her career in public accounting as a full time instructor in PwC’s Learning and Education division. In 2006, she entered the inaugural cohort of the Bentley University Ph.D. program and was selected as the Henry E. Rauch Doctoral Fellow recipient. After graduating in 2011, she spent four years as an assistant professor in Miami at Florida International University. Dr. Westermann is interested in a variety of qualitative methods and conducts research examining auditor perspectives within their social context. Her in-process research is rooted within sociology and organizational behavior literatures, examining both audit practitioners and clients about their perspectives on current issues in auditing.

Professor Steve Mintz Receives Accounting Exemplar Award

The American Accounting Association recently honored Cal Poly Professor Steven Mintz with the Accounting Exemplar Award in the public interest section. The award is given annually to accounting educators and practitioners who have made notable contributions to professionalism and ethics in accounting.

With this honor, Cal Poly becomes the only educational institution to have two faculty members receive the Accounting Exemplar Award.3-mintz Cal Poly accounting Professor Mary Beth Armstrong received the award in 2009. Previous award winners also include Cynthia Cooper, the whistleblower who exposed $3.8 billion in fraud at WorldCom.

“I’m thrilled that Steven’s thought-leadership has been recognized once again,” said Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “Having seasoned professionals like him in the classroom helps prepare career-ready graduates and affirms our accounting program’s powerful reputation.”

A veteran professor and dean in the California State University system, Mintz joined Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business in 2006. More than 40 colleges and universities have adopted his textbook, Accounting Ethics. He also writes blogs on ethics issues in business and society ( and on workplace ethics (

Professor Li Dang Ventures to China

4-dangProfessor Li Dang is on sabbatical for 2015-16 academic year as a visiting faculty member at Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, a coastal city about 190 miles east of Bejing. The university is very similar to Cal Poly in that it is a comprehensive polytechnic school, but with a student population of about 38,000. Professor Dang is currently working with graduate accounting students to help them develop empirical accounting research. She also is working with a team of Chinese researchers on a handful of new projects.

Dang says she is happy to be spending a year in her home country, and that she is enjoying spending her free time at the beautiful beaches in Qinhuangdao.

MSA Tax Program Announces Rodney Mock as Director

5-mockCal Poly’s Master of Science in Accountancy with a specialization in taxation (MSA Tax) program has selected Rodney Mock as its director.

The program, a one-year intensive tax degree that prepares its graduates for a career in federal, state or local taxation, has helped bolster Cal Poly’s position as a top recruiting school for the Big Four accounting firms. “With this experience, many of my students stay in public accounting and ascend to top management-level positions very quickly,” says Mock.

In addition to the standard degree curriculum, Mock will also be welcoming more than 40 industry professionals into the classroom as a part of the program’s Graduate Tax Speaker Series, which gives students a chance to network with and learn from innovative professionals in the field.

For more information, or to get involved with the MSA Tax program or Graduate Tax Speaker Series, contact Rodney Mock at

From Wall Street to Grand Avenue: Alumnus Gives Back to Accounting Faculty

4-Jacobsen header

Every morning, Cal Poly alumnus Rich Jacobsen (Business Administration, ’85) assembles his to-do list by using the same organizational method he learned from Cal Poly Professor Don Yale nearly 30 years ago. As managing director of Greenhill & Co., a leading independent advisory firm in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District, Jacobsen says he can trace his success back to his time with the accounting faculty in the Orfalea College of Business who ignited his interest in the field.

“Most of my instructors were professors with years of teaching experience who were enthusiastic about their subjects and had an ability to connect with students on a personal level,” Jacobsen said. “They had an outstanding understanding of their subject but also knew how to teach the material in an effective manner.”

Despite the incredible impact faculty left on Jacobsen throughout his career, he noticed major financial firms were consistently overlooking Cal Poly graduates in favor of those from more elite institutions.

“Many firms are not familiar with the high quality of graduates coming out of the Orfalea College of Business, and thus it is difficult for students to earn the opportunity to interview for financial analyst positions at top Wall Street firms,” Jacobsen said. So, he decided to do something about it.

As part of a major gift to the university, Jacobsen and his wife, Margaret, established the Jacobsen Faculty Fellowship, jump-starting the college’s initiative to attract and retain leading instructors committed to preparing career-ready graduates through Learn by Doing.

This year, the Jacobsen Faculty Fellowship award was given to three Orfalea College of Business faculty, among whom stood Chris Carr, a professor of business law and public policy in the Accounting Area. Carr was selected for his profound ability to inspire students through international travel and forge meaningful connections with industry partners. On three occasions he consulted as a Fulbright Senior Specialist on entrepreneurship, curriculum development and academic program development, first with a Tunisian university in North Africa and most recently an elite engineering university in Pakistan and a finance and economics university in Mongolia. In addition to Carr, the Orfalea College of Business honored economics Professor Edurado Zambrano and finance Professor Larry Gorman with Jacobsen Fellowships.

“Faculty members are the building blocks for all the college hopes to achieve, particularly those teachers who can develop curriculum that will be responsive to the evolving external business environment,” said Associate Dean for Faculty and Research Rami Shani. “By being engaged in diverse collaborative research projects with industry, our faculty develop the ability to enhance, refine and initiate innovative academic curriculum that is vital to practice.”

With the right faculty leading the way, Jacobsen believes the prowess of Cal Poly graduates will garner the attention it deserves among other big-name schools. “While some graduates of elite schools take an analyst position for granted, Cal Poly students are willing to ‘run through walls’ to make the most of their opportunity,” Jacobsen said of his experience with new hires at Greenhill.

If you’re interested in giving back to the Orfalea College of Business, contact Executive Director for Accounting Excellence Sheri Boscaro at

Economics Professor Collaborates with United Nations to Develop Measurement Standards for Green Economies


Professor Eduardo Zambrano presented his research findings to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this past spring as part of an ongoing effort to build a composite measure of social, environmental and economic progress.

Zambrano worked with a team of UNEP researchers and international scholars to build a methodology for tracking progress in three key dimensions of a “green economy” — social inclusivity, environmental sustainability, and economic efficiency. For each dimension, the team identified targets to aspire to, thresholds to stay away from, and formulated a methodology to measure comparative progress towards those targets. Zambrano and the other team members traveled to UNEP meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, in April and June, to present the findings.

The project supports the organization’s mission to improve the comprehensive well-being of its member countries and monitor the sustainability of such well-being. Zambrano was selected for the team based on his past work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in which he assisted in the redesign of the Human Development Index and the design of the Gender Inequality Index.

As the leading international organization for addressing environmental issues, UNEP is well positioned to play a critical role in developing and supporting green economy progress indicators. Zambrano’s involvement with UNEP is ongoing, and the Green Economy Progress Index is set to be released by UNEP by the end of the year.

In addition to his excellent work abroad over the past year, Zambrano was also recognized by the Orfalea College of Business as the 2015 Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

Professor Rodney Mock on Tax Preparation Software in the Wall Street Journal

Associate Professor of Accounting and Law Rodney Mock recently contributed to two Washington Street Journal stories on the recent influx in the use of tax preparation software and electronic filing. He discusses the problems arising from the “Turbo Tax defense,” which becomes an issue when taxpayers are faced with penalties from the IRS. When using a tax professional, the taxpayer is protected against errors by claiming reliance on the tax advisor. But, with more and more Americans opting to use tax preparations software such as Turbo Tax, there is no protection for the taxpayer in the case that errors were made by the software. Professor Mock discusses the fact that, while in most cases tax preparation software is beneficial, it can become problematic for more complicated tax returns.

He explains this concept in more detail in this interview with the Wall Street Journal, and in a follow-up article he wrote for the WSJ online: