KNOXVILLE — A team of four University of Tennessee, Knoxville, students won $5,000 for demonstrating excellence in sustainability accounting.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) awarded the students second place in a national case competition focused on enhancing environmental sustainability practices at a luxury hotel.
The winning team’s members were Camille Crumpton, junior in accounting and international business; Daniel Aycock, junior in accounting and international business; Johannah Reed, junior in environmental studies; and Richard Lusk, junior in logistics and international business. Three of the four students are in university honors programs.
“What’s particularly interesting about the UT team is that its members touched four majors and two colleges,” said Jan Williams, dean of UT’s College of Business Administration.
While 64 student teams from around the country entered submissions, only 10 were chosen to participate in the competition.
The AICPA, in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Development in Chapel Hill, N.C., opened the competition nationwide last September to students earning either associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees. Students applied their accounting and sustainability know-how to a real-world business challenge for the Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary, N.C. Umstead is a AAA, five-diamond-rated property certified Green Plus by the Institute of Sustainable Development.
Teams developed ideas that would improve the environmental footprint of the hotel, be consistent with its brand and make financial sense.
“Camille was a team organizer with vision,” said Lusk. “She had the foresight to involve an environmental specialist as well as accounting expertise in putting our team together. She recognized that our interdisciplinary focus would provide a unique perspective for succeeding in the competition.” Only three of the 10 competing teams had an interdisciplinary focus; two placed in the top three.
Crumpton said the opportunity to present in front of the AICPA board of directors was a phenomenal experience for a group of undergraduates.
“In our final proposal, we suggested that the Umstead install an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) automation system that would decrease energy costs … and also would qualify the Umstead for tax benefits from the 2005 Energy Policy Act,” he said.
The Umstead plans to incorporate the results of the competition into its capital budgeting process.
AICPA Chairman Paul V. Stahlin offered his congratulations to all of the winners.
“This competition has highlighted the exceptional level of up-and-coming talent in our profession and has given participants invaluable real-world experience,” he said.
The AICPA is the world’s largest association representing the accounting profession, with nearly 370,000 members in 128 countries. For more information about the competition or to watch the video submissions, visit http://www.thiswaytocpa.com and click “accounting competition.”
PHOTO CUTLINE: Left to right, Daniel Aycock, Camille Crumpton, Richard Lusk and Johannah Reed.
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