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March 25, 2016

Endowment to Student Organization Enables Career Success

Alumni Jeff Gustch (left) and accounting professor Jeff Decker

The future of accounting depends on preparing the next generation of professionals with the skills and insights they need to excel, said alumnus Jeff Gutsch, a partner at the public accounting firm Moss Adams LLP.

“One of Moss Adams’ core values is education,” said Gutsch, who, along with the firm, recently established an endowment to support California State University, Chico’s Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) international honors organization for accounting students. “For our profession to be successful, we need strong graduates.”

BAP requires accounting students like Niels Thomas to engage in community service and professional development activities, including organizing the popular Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program—a six-year partnership with the IRS to provide free tax preparation services for low-income households.

“It’s a great way to get involved and get the most out of your education,” said Thomas, president of BAP, which added a third VITA site this year to increase the program’s impact and give more accounting students valuable, hands-on experience.

Thomas says listing BAP on your résumé signals to potential employers that you’re a top student, as members must hold both an overall and upper-division accounting GPA of at least 3.0.

Every year, the BAP endowment fund will help students pay the national dues associated with their membership. This will help prevent cost from being a barrier to students who want to join and demonstrates the commitment of Moss Adams and Gutsch to support academic excellence and leadership in accounting.

“I think it’s important for people to participate and get a closer look into the accounting profession, and take advantage of leadership opportunities and get to know their peers,” Thomas said. “So, for us, it just makes sense to support their education.”

One way BAP students can log required professional development hours is by organizing and attending technical meetings, which bring alumni, recruiters, and industry experts to campus every semester.

It was at a technical meeting where graduating senior Cheyne Thompson first met Gutsch, who regularly returns to campus to recruit and advise future accountants.

“The connection we make at the meetings with the firms that come out makes a huge difference,” said Thompson, BAP’s director of recruitment and development. “The fact that we have a partner like Jeff (Gutsch) coming out, it creates an even stronger connection.”

Thompson says Gutsch’s approachability and willingness to talk candidly with students is the main reason he’ll be moving after he graduates in May, with his wife and daughter, to work at Moss Adams in Santa Rosa.

“I was in their shoes once,” said Gutsch, who spearheaded the firm’s wine industry practice and is grateful for the role Chico State played in shaping his career and the person he is today. “If I can do it, so can they.”

He says, in addition to its highly focused and strong curriculum, there’s something about Chico State that produces outstanding graduates.

“I don’t know quite what it is,” said Gutsch, who still remembers how influential (and challenging) Professor Wallace Leese’s classes were as a student. “It just feels like the people who come out of Chico State have a good head on their shoulders.” 



Nicole Williams
Public Affairs


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