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Gaucho-Led SB Firms Band Together to Build CPA Scholarship Fund for UCSB Economics Majors

Santa Barbara’s top accountants hope to encourage graduates to stay local with mentoring and support

By Marge Perko

The McGowan Guntermann Team

Santa Barbara’s top accounting firms are working together to raise $100,000 for the CPA Scholarship Fund, an endowed scholarship fund for students majoring in economics with an emphasis in accounting at UC Santa Barbara.

Funds and pledges from the participating firms will be matched dollar for dollar by the UCSB Economics Department’s Aster Challenge Fund established last year from a legacy gift from the estate of the late Richard Aster `63, MA `65, the founder of Meridian Funds.

“This is an undergraduate scholarship opportunity specifically for those who are studying economics with an emphasis in accounting,” said Travis Wilson `02, who serves as the audit and and accounting manager at McGowan Guntermann, one of the participating firms. “The $100,000 will be matched dollar for dollar for a total endowment of $200,000. We hope to build the Fund over time throughout ongoing support from other UCSB alumni who studied accounting and remain local as sole proprietors, in private industry and in smaller firms.”

Last year, both McGowan Guntermann and Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co. LLP (NHH &Co.) – led by partner Jody Dolan Holehouse `81 - each made pledges for $25,000. This brought the total endowment fund – including matching funds by the Aster Challenge Fund -- to $100,000 at the end of 2015.

“While the specific scholarships and amounts would be determined by the economics department based upon need and merit, I would expect they award scholarships in the area of $1,000 to $2,500 each,” said Wilson. “It is also possible that some of the funds will be used for smaller awards – such as to defray costs for CPA examination, preparation and additional required coursework.”

Part of the motivation for these Gaucho-led firms is the hope that the best of the best of UCSB’s accounting graduate will choose to stay closer to home. “Anything we local firms can do to retain talented graduates from UCSB is a win for our Santa Barbara firms and our community as a whole,” he said.

Jody Dolan Holehouse `81

Holehouse serves as a regular speaker at events hosted by UCSB Undergraduate Accounting Society (formerly the UCSB Accounting Assocation). “At our firm, we’ve hired predominantly students from UCSB,” she said. “We deliver an alternative to going with a Big Four firm. Santa Barbara has a lot of wonderful accounting firms and opportunities in the industry.”

UCSB accounting graduates are in high demand. In 2006, KPMG, one of the nation’s four largest international public accounting firms, named UC Santa Barbara a Premiere School – an honor conferred to only 38 programs in the country. Other Big Four firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers all recognized UC Santa Barbara as a key school to recruit accounting talent.

Every year, an average of 300 students graduate with an economics degree from UCSB – with about 200 recruited or hired by the Big Four within the first year after graduation. According to the July issue of CalCPA Magazine and a compilation of local firm hiring statistics, Santa Barbara employers create around 40 job opportunities every year for UCSB accounting students.

“There are just so many great opportunities for accounting majors,” said Holehouse. “They might want to go out in the bigger market – and it’s good for them to test the waters. And they can come back. I want them to know that they have a place to come back in SB – and with us who have graduated from from UCSB, the door is open to them in so many ways.”

Watch out for more stories about UCSB accounting grads online: Learn about Jody Dolan Holehouse `81 in our special eCoastlines Alumni Spotlight.

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