When she donated $250,000 to Mays Business School to establish the Karen N. Pape ’80 Scholarship in Accounting, Pape says she had the parents of the students in mind as much as the students.

Distributions from the endowment will be used to provide scholarships to full-time students enrolled in the Professional Program within the Mays Department of Accounting, a track that allows students to earn bachelor’s degrees in accounting as well as a master’s degree in five years.

Pape says she wanted to give back to the college that gave her so much. She says the Professional Program did not exist when she received her bachelor’s degree in accounting. “Back then, you got a four-year degree, you graduated and you went to work,” she says. “I would have enjoyed this program, but I don’t think I could have afforded another year.”

She says she can attest to the program’s quality, as she employs six graduates from the program at Genesis Energy LP in Houston, where she is senior vice president and controller.

Concern over expense prompted Pape to donate to Mays — to support the students in the program as well as their parents. “I know the struggle the students face with the program, particularly during that fifth year. And I know the parents aren’t anticipating that extra expense from the outset.”

“Karen’s generosity will have a significant impact on our students,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “The ability her gift provides to offset some of the costs associated with the required additional year of study in our Professional Program will open this opportunity to a greater number of our top students.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. Its mission is to create knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Aggie pride runs deep in the heart of Lou Paletta ’78, Senior Managing Director of Investor Relations at Lone Star Funds. Paletta recently visited Mays Business School to speak with Business Honors students about his experience in the finance and investment arena, as well as his deep-rooted love for Texas A&M University.

Paletta graduated from Texas A&M with an accounting degree before venturing into public accounting, working for Deloitte & Touche. His job eventually took him to California, where he met and married his wife.

Lou Paletta '78 told Mays Business Honors students,
Lou Paletta ’78 told Mays Business Honors students, “ultimately the people you work with and the culture of the company make a difference.” (view more photos)

In 1993, the San Antonio native took a job back in Texas with Lone Star Funds, a global private equity investment firm with aggregate capital commitments totaling more than $33 billion, according to the company’s website. At Lone Star, Paletta’s position involves establishing new sources of capital as well as managing relationships between the company and investors. Lone Star Funds focuses on “distressed investing,” and Paletta says the company “likes being in the debt space.”

With a wealth of experience behind him, Paletta had a valuable piece of advice for the business honors students: “Don’t get consumed with the resume and miss the ride.” He spoke with the students about the “journey” of his career, advising the students to “listen a lot, and learn a lot” from those around them.

Part of Paletta’s personal learning process has been travelling the world with Lone Star. “I’ve been everywhere,” he says, “and my perception of America changes the more I spend time with different cultures.” Paletta’s career has taken him to places like Europe, Japan, the Middle East and most recently, Australia and New Zealand.

Paletta tells students to “find the right fit,” referring to their current or impending job search. “Don’t get overly consumed in the prestige of a job, because it’s ultimately the people you work with and the culture of the company that makes a difference.” Paletta says Lone Star’s own culture of maintaining a “flat organizational structure” suits him well, because he’s “never been big on titles.”

Paletta currently serves on the board of directors for the 12th Man Foundation, as well as the Dean’s Development Council for Mays Business School. A strong believer in Aggie values and education, Paletta urges students to take advantage of the Aggie network—”The relationships built during and after school will be a big part of your life.”

Catagories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

As Stephanie Anderson ’89 and Bob Manz spoke with Business Honors students in a recent lecture and luncheon, a prevalent thought was evident in the students’ attentive eyes—”They have the coolest job ever.”

Anderson (Managing Director) and Manz (Director) work for AlixPartners, a global consulting firm that specializes in turnaround management. The two work in the forensic accounting sector, and Anderson admits that they often feel “like spies on a mission” with many of their job duties.

AlixPartners Managing Director Stephanie Anderson '89 told students that employee fraud often starts out on a small scale.
AlixPartners Managing Director Stephanie Anderson ’89 told students that employee fraud often starts out on a small scale. “But eventually, their perception of right and wrong swings farther and farther away from our perception of right and wrong.” (view more photos)

Anderson and Manz used a recent case their team handled as an example of what forensic accounting entails, describing the process as the “anatomy of a covert investigation.”

“The beginning of the process is pretty quick,” says Manz. “We get a phone call from the whistleblower, the allegations are presented, and we make immediate decisions on the next course of action.”

Anderson and Manz said after this first spark of a potential case, the team sifts through the allegation details—examining the credibility of the company’s whistleblower and separating allegations that are “just noise” (inappropriate office relationships, bitterness towards management, etc.) from claims that are based on monetary fraud. As soon as Anderson’s team has probable cause of improper use of company resources, an office raid is conducted.

“Bob was the leader of the SWAT team,” Anderson jokes of Manz. Manz explained that in their recent case, he led a team of data collectors, IT specialists and even a locksmith to legally break into the company’s office one weekend and comb through electronic and paper documents. The team worked for more than 48 hours straight, collecting data and meticulously putting the office back to exactly how the employees had left it.

After the office raid is complete, the AlixPartners team members prepare the evidence for review, conduct interviews with the involved parties and present their findings to the auditors and lawyers.

With more than 20 years of experience in forensic accounting, Anderson says she has seen a common theme in employee fraud— it starts small. “It’s just a little shift in their moral compass. But eventually, their perception of right and wrong swings farther and farther away from our perception of right and wrong.”

Anderson received her undergraduate in accounting from Texas State University before earning her MBA in business management from Texas A&M University in 1989. Prior to joining AlixPartners, Anderson held positions at Arthur Andersen and PricewaterhouseCoopers, working in countries such as Kuwait, Mexico and Russia. Manz , received an accounting degree from “that other school,” as Anderson describes it: the University of Texas at Austin.

Despite their accounting backgrounds, Anderson and Manz echoed many Mays business professors when they told the Business Honors students that they’ve got to learn sales, regardless of their major. “I never wanted to go into sales,” Anderson says, “But the further and further you climb up the ladder in a company, the more you have to learn how to sell your products or services in order to drive revenue.” …Even in a forensic accounting firm.

Catagories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Fresh out of eye surgery and driving 1,600 miles to College Station, Texas, Willie T. Langston II ’81 says he wouldn’t have missed talking to Mays Business School Business Honors students for the world. With an instant charisma that lights up a room, Langston shared wisdom on a topic that hit close to home—vision.

“How much vision do you need to have during the interview process?” Langston asked the students. “What do you have to know about what you want to do when you’re sitting in that interview chair?”

“Be humble enough to admit that at 21, 22, or 23 years old you don’t have absolute certainty about what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life,” Avalon Advisors co-founder Willie T. Langston II ’81 told Business Honors students during a recent visit. (view more photos)

Graduating with an accounting degree from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Stanford, Langston says he didn’t have his career path nailed down before interviewing in the business arena. He took a job in public accounting after graduating, and says that although it wasn’t his dream job, he quickly learned that didn’t mean it wasn’t the right job. “For me it was boring, I was no good at doing it, and it was still one of the best career decisions that I could have made,” he says. Langston claims his two years in public accounting taught him how to be organized and structured— two skills that propelled him to later success at companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and his own company he co-founded in 2001, Avalon Advisors.

Langston claims that landing the “right job,” rather than the dream job, hinges on approaching the job search with an open, truthful frame of mind.

“Be humble enough to admit that at 21, 22, or 23 years old you don’t have absolute certainty about what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life,” the Palestine, Texas native told students about sitting in an interview chair. He explained that too many college graduates are programmed to believe they should know every detail about a job, even when they’ve never worked the position. “Truth is right, but truth requires preparation,” Langston adds, encouraging students to thoroughly learn their DNA and what they want out of their careers. “Press yourself to be more prepared than your peers so that you can be fully truthful and allow truth to fully work for you; leading you to the job that you should have, not could have.”

Langston also spoke to the students about maintaining the right mindset after getting the job. Referencing a recent sermon by Gregg Matte ’92, Langston says, “Perspective determines priorities, which dictate practice. … For example, my family means more to me than my career,” he says, “and that perspective determines my priorities and practice.” Langston also cautions the students on trying to maintain a perspective in a company that cultivates a contrasting one—”Trust me, at 22 and the low person on the totem pole, it is far more likely that your firm influences your priorities than you’re shifting its culture,” he says.

Langston is the first in a series of speakers who will come talk to the Business Honors students, and he was quick to commend the Aggies on their obvious hard work. He closed with Luke 12:48 — “To whom much is given, much is required”— a challenge for the students to maximize the rich knowledge they’ve received at Texas A&M.

Catagories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Prior research finds that there is substantial variation in firms’ ability to avoid income taxes. One possible determinant of this tax avoidance variation is the influence of industry expertise of a firm’s external auditor.

In other words, the tax-specific expertise of the external auditing company a firm hires potentially makes a big difference in companies’ level of tax avoidance, and ultimately, net income.


Thomas Omer


Mays Business School faculty members and researchers Sean McGuire (an assistant professor in accounting), Thomas Omer (Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting) and Dechun Wang (assistant professor in accounting) set out to investigate the relationship between firms’ level of tax avoidance and the proficiencies of the external auditing companies those firms were hiring.

“We started this project because we were interested in the influence of the external audit firm on their clients’ tax avoidance activities,” says McGuire. “Many corporations hire their external audit firm to provide tax services in addition to their audit services. Accordingly, our goal was to investigate whether the tax expertise of audit firms that provide tax services to their client influences their clients’ level of tax avoidance.”

McGuire defines tax avoidance as “any strategy that reduces a firm’s tax liability, used by companies to generate cash savings and increase after tax earnings by reducing their tax expense.”

“Consistent with other academic research,” he explains, “we view tax avoidance as a continuum that ranges from clearly legal strategies, like investments in municipal bonds, to those of questionable legality, like tax shelters.”

The research relied on previous audit studies that define expertise in terms of industry and audit office fees. Two types of industry expertise were identified to measure the level of expertise in firms: overall expertise and tax expertise.

Both overall and tax expertise are designed to capture an audit firm’s tax expertise within a particular industry and city office. However, overall expertise includes audit expertise, rather than solely the firm’s level of tax proficiency.

To gather the information, McGuire says the researchers estimated companies’ tax-specific industry expertise based on an audit firm’s market share in a given industry and city. “We calculated market share using publicly available data from Audit Analytics,” McGuire shares.

The results of the research found that firms who hire industry experts exhibit higher levels of tax avoidance relative to firms that do not hire industry experts.

McGuire expounds upon the research results, saying, “I think the most interesting finding is that the clients of audit firms that have overall expertise, i.e. combined audit and tax expertise, exhibit high levels of tax avoidance. This finding suggests that the combined tax and financial reporting expertise of audit firms allows them to develop tax strategies that benefit their clients from both a tax and financial statement perspective.”

The research results provide a number of significant contributions to tax avoidance literature. Not only do the findings contribute to the stream of research investigating the variation in firms’ tax avoidance activities, but they also provide evidence on the association between the industry expertise of the firm’s external auditor and the firm’s tax activities.

According to McGuire, prior research documents substantial variation in firms’ level of tax avoidance. “Given that there are obvious benefits to avoiding income taxes (higher net income), it is important to understand why some firms are more successful than others in avoiding income taxes,” he says. “It is also interesting to examine whether the industry expertise developed by audit firms (in terms of tax-specific expertise and auditing expertise) influences the tax avoidance of their clients.”

Catagories: Research Notes

Three Mays faculty members and a business school instructor were among 24 members of Texas A&M’s faculty and staff to be honored with 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

(Top, L-R) Cheryl Holland Bridges, Duane Ireland; (Bottom, L-R) Kerry Litzenberg, Michael Shaub
(Top, L-R) Cheryl Holland Bridges, Duane Ireland; (Bottom, L-R) Kerry Litzenberg, Michael Shaub

Cheryl Bridges (marketing) and Michael Shaub (accounting) were given the 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards to recognize their teaching, and Robert “Duane” Ireland (management) was recognized for research. Kerry Litzenberg of Agricultural Economics also received a teaching award.

Bridges is director of the Center for Retailing Studies and an executive professor of marketing. Shaub is a clinical professor. Ireland is a distinguished professor and the Conn Chair in New Ventures Leadership. Litzenberg is a professor of agricultural economics.

The awards were announced by Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students. They will be formally presented April 25. Each recipient will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque.

The university-level Distinguished Achievement Awards were first presented in 1955 and have since been awarded to 930 professionals (including this year’s recipients) who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M. In addition to teaching and research awards, employees are also recognized in the categories of staff, student relations, administration, extension and outreach and graduate mentoring.

Catagories: Faculty

Shannon Deer, a lecturer and assistant department head in the accounting department at Mays Business School, was selected as the 2012 recipient of the David Baggett Endowed Teaching Excellence Award.

Shannon Deer

The annual award is intended to recognize extraordinary efforts and innovation in teaching effectiveness, curriculum development and student services in the accounting department.

Previous awards went to accounting Associate Professor Connie Weaver in 2010 and accounting Professor Chris Wolfe in 2011. The recipients receive a plaque and a cash award.

The award was made possible through an endowment created by Denise and David Baggett ’81. David, who graduated with honors with an accounting degree, is the senior partner of Opportune LLP.

Deer’s accomplishments include:

  • Developing an energy accounting course in 2010 and subsequently making a number of improvements in the course. Enrollment in that course has increased from 35 in 2010 to 60 in 2012.
  • Successfully hosting the first Halliburton Energy Case Competition and currently coordinating the second annual competition. Halliburton was so pleased with the first-year results that they quadrupled the prize money for the winners.
  • Obtaining approval for an Energy Accounting Certificate Program, which will provide an opportunity for both BBA and PPA students to gain a competitive advantage in the industry.
  • Developing projects for the energy course with Marathon that allow students to gain real-world experience. Students going into public accounting can elect to audit a project to gain applicable audit experience.
  • Developing a series of video lectures for use in Accounting 229. She is filming weekly video lectures for students to watch prior to attending class. Class time is used for discussions and working challenging problems with students.
  • Setting up group office hours as an opportunity for students to ask questions or work problems in a group environment.
  • Along with watching videos prior to class, students are required to complete a packet prior to coming to class — an approach that has significantly increased the number of students who are prepared prior to class.
  • Mentoring a PPA student teaching a one-hour Excel course to 34 undergraduate students and an undergraduate student teaching a one-hour general energy industry course to 20 undergraduate students (meets with them weekly to prepare for class, attends class, and provides feedback);
  • Serving as the lead instructor for the Becker CPA review course for five years, mentoring students in their application and preparation to take the CPA exam; and meets with many former students to help them in choosing their track for PPA and internship locations.
  • Working with BBA students, helping them obtain employment, especially in the energy industry.

Catagories: Faculty

Richard Hanus ’76 honored his late father by creating a scholarship to benefit the accounting department at Mays Business School. The Houston resident donated $25,000 toward establishing the Lawrence Hanus Memorial Scholarship in Accounting at Mays.

Richard Hanus says he appreciated the opportunity to honor his father. “I liked the “permanence’ of establishing an endowment in my dad’s name, and wished to credit him with some of my achievements,” he says. “He taught me fiscal discipline, conservatism, and doing more than is required to create value, which has served my firm and clients well.”

Richard Hanus '76 (pictured here with his wife, Donna) honored his late father, Lawrence Hanus, by creating a scholarship to benefit the accounting department.
Richard Hanus ’76 (pictured here with his wife, Donna) honored his late father, Lawrence Hanus, by creating a scholarship to benefit the accounting department. “He would really enjoy what the scholarship does to foster individual development and growth,” Richard says.

Lawrence Hanus taught an accounting/bookkeeping course at McKenzie/Baldwin Business School in Bryan in the 1950s and assisted others in tax return preparation. “He was always focused on doing things right and being precise,” his son says. “Dad also encouraged education and made sacrifices with mom to ensure my brother, sister and I received a good education. All three of us and several of our children have received degrees from Texas A&M, with others still in progress. He would really enjoy what the scholarship does to foster individual development and growth.”

Richard has served on the Accounting Advisory Council spanning a number of years. And, as a partner at Ernst & Young, he and his wife Donna have supported corporate gifts and endowments through its matching gifts program. Donna and Richard believe in supporting education and are currently recognized as members of the A&M Legacy Society. “This was an opportunity to do something above and beyond the E&Y programs to benefit the department and give some recognition to a key influencer,” he says.

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser says the accounting program has been “hugely successful because of the passion and support of former students like Richard … He has given back to this program through his time, energy and financial resources to make it among the nation’s elite.”

James Benjamin, accounting professor and department head, said Richard Hanus was in the first group of students he taught when he arrived at Texas A&M. “I remember him as a dedicated student with a genuine personality,” Benjamin says. “He had a quiet sense of humor and seemed to be well-liked by his classmates. Those traits do not seem to have changed over time.”

Benjamin says he kept up with Hanus from early in his career, and has not been surprised with his success in public accounting and his accomplishments in life. “He has been a very effective auditor and he is now a leader in his firm in advising other partners on technical accounting issues,” he says.

Hanus became an advocate for Texas A&M early in his career with Ernst & Young, Benjamin recalls. In the early 1980s, Hanus and an Ernst & Young partner (who was not an Aggie) convinced the firm leadership to commit to funding one of the first few professorships in the business school. He was also involved in the subsequent funding of several other E&Y endowments in support of the accounting program.

“Richard understands the importance of scholarship support for our students and he has assured me that he plans to add to the endowment over time,” Benjamin says. “I really appreciate the impact that Richard has had on our program through his advice and financial support, and I have also been fortunate to have him as a friend.”

Catagories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Senior accounting major Laura Beer, a student worker at the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), has received the 2011 TVMDL Director’s Excellence Award in the student category.

Beer has worked in the finance section at TVMDL’s College Station location since May 2010.

Laura Beer
Laura Beer

“Laura brings a tremendous work ethic to TVMDL as well as an outstanding knowledge of our billing operation,” said TVMDL Director Tammy Beckham. “Her willingness to assist with a multitude of tasks while keeping her cheerful disposition has greatly enhanced our finance office. She really has exceeded every expectation of her job and has become a vital part of TVMDL.”

Beer has worked in a veterinary clinic since age 16, giving her an appreciation for both the business side of a clinic and the role of diagnostic testing in serving clients.

She maintains a full-time academic schedule while handling advanced office duties during part-time hours. She works daily with accounts receivables and accounts payable. Her responsibilities include processing client payments, which can total as many as 300 checks each day.

Beer also is responsible for routing disbursement paperwork to the Texas AgriLife fiscal office and for keeping track of consumable inventory. In addition, she is instrumental in implementing new procedures, such as matching invoices to payments for clients at universities or agencies.

The award also recognizes Beer’s role in TVMDL’s recent switch to electronic delivery of client statements. Beer made hundreds of phone calls and exchanged hundreds of emails with TVMDL clients during this process.

“Laura’s attention to detail and high level of customer service are huge assets to TVMDL,” Beckham said.

Catagories: Students

David C. Baggett ’81 uses one phrase to sum up his rich life, loving family and rewarding career: “It’s good being me.”

James Benjamin says it’s good being Baggett’s friend. In fact, Baggett and Benjamin, accounting department head at Mays Business School, have an ongoing debate about who has had the greatest influence on the other.

David C. Baggett '81
Baggett ’81

Benjamin calls Baggett “one of the brightest but most unique students I have encountered in my 37 years at Texas A&M (as evidenced by graduating in accounting in two years and being the two-time intramural ping pong champion).”

Baggett’s fast track to graduation with honors at age 20 quickly led to his first job, with Deloitte & Touche. He was the youngest partner in the history of that firm when he was promoted to partner at the age of 29.

Beginning very shortly after graduation, Benjamin says, Baggett became a “dedicated supporter for and advocate of our program … He was one of the youngest members appointed to our Accounting Advisory Council and he is now the longest-serving member of that group.”

He says Baggett has consistently been available to help with the development of the programs – advising on curriculum and program strategies, mentoring students and recruiting graduates, and assisting with fund-raising. “He began contributing financially to our program immediately after graduation, and the amount of his contributions have increased proportionally with his success in business.”

Baggett’s most recent gift to Texas A&M of $500,000 went to create the Denise and David C. Baggett ’81 Professional Development Endowment in support of the Business Honors Program.

Baggett has always seemed more interested in the impact of his support on the accounting program, Mays and Texas A&M than in recognition for his gifts, Benjamin says. “I am gratified but not surprised with his latest commitment to the Mays Honors Program,” Benjamin says. “David has also been a great personal friend and advisor, and I know that he has been a significant, positive influence in my life.”

In return, Baggett says Benjamin has had a profound impact on his professional and personal life – “and my wallet, if you count all my golf bet losses, and has led our accounting department to its current status as a nationally recognized top-tier program.” He adds, “Denise and I are blessed to be able to give something back to Mays Business School, and trust that our recent endowment will be meaningful to students in the Business Honors Program for many years to come.”

Mays dean Jerry Strawser says David and Denise Baggett have benefitted many with their generosity. “Through their most recent commitment to support our students professional development through study abroad and participation in other extracurricular opportunities, they will open many doors for our students and truly influence their lives,” he says.

Strawser adds, “In addition to his ongoing financial support and other fundraising efforts, Baggett has supported Mays in many other ways including hiring numerous Mays graduates, mentoring MBA students and using Mays Center for Executive Development for the training of his professionals.”

David and Denise are involved in several charitable endeavors, including the establishment of the David and Denise Baggett Teaching Award for Accounting Professors in Mays. Baggett serves on the Dean’s Development Council and the Accounting Department Advisory Council, and he is on the Champions Council of the 12th Man Foundation.

In 2005, Baggett founded Opportune LLP, an energy consulting firm that assists clients with corporate finance, complex financial reporting, process and technology, strategy and organization, dispute resolution, enterprise risk, tax and outsourcing. Opportune serves clients throughout North America and Europe through offices in Houston, Denver and London. The company ranked fourth in the 2011 Aggie 100, which recognizes the fastest growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world.

Baggett also was a Mays Outstanding Alumni Award honoree for 2011.

Baggett lives in the Houston area and serves on the board of directors of NorthStar Energy and Marlin Midstream. He previously served on the boards of AMPAM, Genesis Energy, Encore Energy Partners and ERCOT, the independent system operator for electrical markets in Texas. He is actively involved in the several trade organizations, including the IPAA and the Turnaround Management Association.

Catagories: Donors Corner, Former Students