Marc Morris named director of Master of Accountancy program

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Marc Morris named director of Master of Accountancy program

November 07, 2014, Katja Sonkeng

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Marc Morris, director of the Master of
Accountancy program (MAcc)

From Carbondale, Illinois, to Wisconsin and back to Saluki land: Marc Morris’ career has come full circle.

The assistant professor of accountancy gladly accepted his new role as director of the Master of Accountancy program (MAcc) during a recent faculty meeting within SIU’s School of Accountancy. Morris, a Carbondale native, replaced Marcus Odom, professor of accountancy and Deloitte & Touche Faculty Fellow, effective Oct. 3. Odom assumed the role in 2012 after the retirement of Julie Sobery, who taught at SIU for nearly 30 years.

“I grew up in Carbondale, so I earned my undergraduate at SIU, left for a while, came back, got my MBA here, went to University of Wisconsin Law School to get my J.D., and came back,” Morris said. “A few years later I got my Ph.D. in accounting. I just remembered how this place was when I was here as a student, and the professors and the impression they had on me when I was walking the halls, and I felt this was a good way to give back.”

Nominated by his colleague Royce Burnett, chair and associate professor of accountancy and KPMG research professor, Morris is looking forward to bringing their shared vision for the future of the MAcc program to life.

“Where we see the department with respect to the master’s program, we both believe that this is an opportunity for growth at least within the department itself on a graduate level,” he said. “To be part of that potential progress and have a hand in making it happen is exciting.”

Morris said that he and Burnett strongly believe that “this is a great chance for us to grow the tax program, and the audit program, by perhaps recruiting high-caliber students of bordering states from schools that are very good schools academically but do not have MAcc programs.”

Another opportunity of growth Morris clearly envisions is to move the tax program into a Master of Taxation, which “gives us a little bit more credence and credibility in the marketplace,” he said.

“With that, we want to broaden ourselves, even in terms of the employment reach of our graduates,” Morris said. “If these students want go to other places, let’s make the connections for them. (Once) we get excellent alumni out there, more doors will open up.”

Because he received his education at SIU, Morris knows which steps have to be taken to achieve this goal.

“The first step that I see myself taking is getting a real feel for our current students and what they believe – what their needs are, what their background is, and how we can help them fulfill their dreams and goals,” he said. “We know our best recruiting tool is word of mouth from students who come through. Once we get this in place, I believe, the next step is now to go out there and bring in students.”

Until his nomination as director of the SIU MAcc program, Morris served as an assistant professor of accountancy, teaching business enterprises, accounting for lawyers, and partnership and corporate taxation at SIU’s School of Law. He earned the honor of School of Accountancy Lecturer of the Year in 2002 and 2007. In addition, he brings valuable industry experience to the new role as the former director of financial planning and administration for Cook County in Chicago, as well as senior financial analyst and compliance officer for Siemens-ICN in Boca Raton, Florida.

Yet Morris’ recipe for success lies in his personal experience at SIU.

“This is a good place, and I am familiar with it,” he said. “And so, coming back and knowing where students are coming from, I kind of let them know that they can do it: ‘I did it, so you can do it.’ So I can relate do them that way.”

That’s an approach that paid off recently when the accounting advisory board acknowledged Morris’ protégés as “polished students.”

“In essence, what they were saying is that they (the students) hit the ground running, and that’s something we take pride in,” Morris said. “The thing that I stress to the students is that we are asking a lot of you, but you have to trust us. Things we are doing aren’t busy work; they are really useful skills that will prepare you for the future. Do the things that are uncomfortable for you now, so that when you get out there you do not experience it for the first time. By the middle of their second semester, if not before, many of our students have gained employment or internship, whatever the case is. It’s an excellent job market.”

Therefore, his promise for his students upon his inauguration is this: “By the time we finish polishing you to that product that is ready to go out as an asset to a firm, you will be very desirable.”

The SIU College of Business extends a sincere welcome to Morris as the new director of the Master of Accountancy.