Loras College accounting graduates achieve seventh best pass rate in nation, second in Iowa

Robert Waterbury

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Loras College accounting graduates taking the CPA exam for the first time in 2017 recorded the nation’s seventh-best pass rate among institutions that had at least 10 candidates. Loras graduates also scored the second-best pass rate in Iowa.

With a pass rate of 82.5 percent, Loras finished slightly behind Brigham Young University (83.1 percent) at sixth place, according to results reported by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Of the 797 intuitions ranked nationally, Loras topped institutions such as University of Wisconsin-Madison (81.1 percent), Texas A&M University (80.5 percent), Vanderbilt University (80.5 percent), the University of Notre Dame (80.3 percent) and Boston College (79.7 percent).

“I wasn’t surprised to see the success Loras graduates experienced on the 2017 CPA exam,” Luke Lammer, associate professor of accounting at Loras, said. “Our students are dedicated and that’s absolutely necessary to be successful on such a tough exam.”

The new CPA exam format launched in 2017 shifted focus from lower-order skills like remembering, understanding, and application to higher-order skills like analysis and evaluation.

“These higher-order skills are exactly what we work to develop in Loras students through general education and major coursework,” Lammer said.

In Iowa, Loras was second only to Northwestern College (89.3 percent) which also placed second nationally. Rounding out the top five nationally were Washington and Lee University (89.5 percent), University of Georgia (86.3 percent), Wake Forest University (84.5 percent) and the University of Virginia (84.2 percent).

“We are thrilled, but not really surprised, to be in such elite company,” said Jim Padilla, dean of Loras’ Francis J. Noonan School of Business. “Our graduates have a long tradition of proving that they can achieve at the highest levels and bring to their firms critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills they developed at Loras.”

Loras accounting graduates are working for leading companies such as Ernst & Young, US Bank, Deloitte, KPMG, A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Company, Flexsteel Industries, Inc., John Deere, Eide Bailly LLP, Cottingham and Butler, Honkamp Krueger and Co., P.C., McGraw-Hill Education, IBM and Transamerica.

Jenna Walleser, a 2017 graduate of Loras and part of the 2017 CPA exam group, is now an auditor at KPMG in Minneapolis. She majored in accounting, finance and economics with a concentration in international business.

“The technical skills I gained within these majors, as well as the soft skills gained through various opportunities at Loras, have helped me rapidly launch my career at KPMG,” Walleser said. “Loras prepares its students well for the exam – via class time, discussions with professors who have gone through the exams, and the diligent work ethic demanded of its students – and as a result, I was able to pass all four sections in one testing window.”

KPMG employs more than 34,000 people in the United States and 189,000 worldwide. It serves more than 82 percent of the FORTUNE Global 500 and more than 80 percent of the Forbes Global 1000.

Already known for its legacy of successful accounting and business leaders, Loras recently launched the Francis J. Noonan School of Business. The Noonan School’s mission is to educate students to be ethically-aware, data-informed, globally-prepared, responsible leaders The School is named after the late Francis J. Noonan, a 43-year member of the Loras faculty, retiring in 1991 as professor emeritus. Professor Noonan remains the longest-serving business faculty member and continues to hold a much beloved status among Loras alumni, faculty, and staff.

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