Marian University Class First To Use Key Concepts

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CPA Center of Excellence® Utilizes Similarities in Approach

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In just three years, Business 109 has been found to effectively build the so-called “soft” skills in students often found previously lacking, as well as create enthusiasm for business and their future course work.

Indianapolis-based Marian University ushered in a new concept for a first- or second-year business course, and it caught the attention of the Indiana CPA Society and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the CPA Center of Excellence®. The Society followed the course through a full semester to understand how the concepts used in the course translate to a similar approach being implemented for professional education by the CPA Center of Excellence®.

The Marian course, officially Business 109 but better known as Business Plan Competition, began in 2012. It is believed to be the first course at any college or university in the country to utilize experiential learning, team teaching, and ultimately the planning and development of a real on-campus business selected through a competition at the end of the semester that is funded by investors.

Business 109 - while incorporating accounting, economics and general business planning - stresses and builds foundational skills such as teamwork, leadership, communications and problem solving. It does this through practical applications and team exercises as the course mixes lectures from three different professors with students working in three- or four-person teams, presenting to their classmates, and interacting with other students, professors, administrators and groups on campus throughout the semester.

In just three years, it has been found to effectively build the so-called “soft” skills in students often found previously lacking, as well as create enthusiasm for business and their future course work. It has also given students the confidence to succeed, prepare for the job world, and strengthen their résumés with some of the real-life experiences gained through participation in the class.

The CPA Center of Excellence® is also developing innovative changes to CPA continuing professional education. CPAs in most states including Indiana are required to take a series of continuing education courses in order to renew their CPA license every three years. The CPA Center of Excellence®, established in 2014, has quickly become a leader in the development of new learning opportunities for CPAs based on the core competencies of the CPA profession (i.e. "soft" skills), experiential learning and a competency-based approach.

The Society prepared an article for its magazine, CPA IN Perspective, about the course and produced a video posted on its YouTube channel that includes interviews with Marian administrators, instructors and students. The goal is to generate understanding and support among INCPAS members for this type learning approach as it mirrors much of the work being done by the CPA Center of Excellence®.

For more information about the CPA Center of Excellence®, go to For interviews with CPA Center of Excellence® representatives or Marian University administration or faculty, contact Dave Shatkowski at (317) 726-5000 or dshatkowski(at)incpas(dot)org.


About the Indiana CPA Society

Nearly 8,100 CPAs in public practice, business and industry, government and education are members of the Indiana CPA Society. INCPAS is the most trusted business resource and advocate in Indiana. Its members are required to abide by the CPA profession's code of conduct. INCPAS members also receive access to quality educational programs and peer networking for knowledge sharing. Society members are trusted advisors to Indiana's business community. INCPAS is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015. For more information, visit

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Elise LeBlanc

Dave Shatkowski
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