New accounting chair wants to see progress

April 29, 2013
Scott Fleming
Fleming, right, with Professor Mazin M.A. Jumah, president of the Royal University for Women, and students in a workshop Dr. Fleming gave in Bahrain last year.

Scott Fleming is the new chairperson for the Department of Accounting in WVU’s College of Business and Economics. A better title might be “chief facilitator.”

Fleming, who joined the College in 2005, follows Robert Maust (2011-2012) and Tim Pearson, who led the department  before taking a post as professor and director at the School of Accountancy, Georgia Southern University.

Fleming believes his role is to help his colleagues attain their goals.

“As chair of the department my job is to assist faculty in doing what they do best,” he said. “There are small or structural things that I can do to help them meet their goals.”

Fleming, who became an associate professor last August, said he is encouraging the department to continue toward “higher levels of research and innovative teaching.”   

He said he hopes to see faculty continue to target publication in top national and international academic journals and to grow in research reputation.  The department is also working on ways to improve students’ CPA exam preparedness within the master’s program and is examining the potential for specializations within the program. He said a tax certificate, similar to the forensic accounting and fraud examination (FAFE) certificate, might be “a strategic opportunity” for the department and College.

After earning a Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University in 2005, Dr. Fleming, who was raised in Ravenswood, W.Va., came home.  He had kept in touch with faculty at the College of Business and Economics, where he earned an accounting degree in 1988 and an MBA in 1996. This contact eventually led to a job offer. “It is very fortunate that I stayed in touch with WVU and WVU stayed in touch with me. I really feel fortunate to come back to my alma mater,” he said.

Fleming worked in industry for 10 years, and his last position was with General Electric. He left in 1998 to enter academia and shortly thereafter began to focus on a doctoral degree.  “I learned a lot working in industry and had wonderful personal experiences, but at a certain point I began to feel that it simply was not enough,” he said. “Now, at WVU, I feel as though I have my dream job.  I enjoy what I do and I am helping others, too.”

His research interests include investigations into the behavioral nature of corporate governance with emphasis on executive compensation, group decision making, ethics and fraud.

Last year, he and several other professors were featured in the cover story for Fraud Magazine in an article that recently received The Hubbard Award from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), an award that recognizes significant contributions to the anti-fraud profession.

Fleming was recognized along with co-authors Jack W. Dorminey and Richard Riley of the College of Business and Economics and Mary-Jo Kranacher, York College, CUNY.

The ACFE annually presents the award to the best feature article in Fraud Magazine. The article maintained that revision or augmentation is required in what is called “the fraud triangle” and highlighted additional continuing research into white collar crime.  The triangle is used to understand the actions of many fraud perpetrators.

Fleming said as chair he is also interested in promoting innovative teaching. One example of success the College may look to emulate is the new online-hybrid version of the College’s FAFE program

This certificate program is at the graduate level, but the department is beginning to examine select online accounting classes for undergraduates. “Assisting the faculty during the past year to continue to target high-level research outlets and to encourage risk and innovation in the classroom is beginning to pay off,” he said. “Half the battle is to communicate and share many of the best-practices already being performed within the department and College.”

Fleming was abroad last spring promoting the College and conducting a workshop in forensic accounting and fraud examination.  He presented a three-day workshop in Bahrain at the Royal University for Women and explored topics including money laundering, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, asset misappropriation and general corruption. Participants were from 15 organizations including the National Audit Court, Central Bank of Bahrain, Ministry of Interior, Takaful International and the Ebrahim Kanoo Group, among others.

“The workshop was a great setting to introduce financial investigative techniques,” said Fleming. “I would expect that this will also attract a new population interested in the FAFE program at WVU. We are hoping to increase our presence and international footprint in the forensics arena.”

Fleming lives in Elkins, W.Va., and is married to Julie, a physical therapist and WVU product. She earned her undergraduate degree in physical therapy from WVU in 1990 and an EMBA from B&E in 2007.

For fun, Fleming likes outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and skiing. “I’m a bit of a workaholic and unfortunately I have more hobbies than time,” he said, so he doesn’t get out as much as he’d like. He also plays bluegrass guitar and the lap dulcimer. The latter was a gift from his wife on their fifth wedding anniversary (the wood anniversary), which also included a week of music lessons at the Augusta Heritage Workshops in Elkins.  The Flemings will be celebrating their 20th anniversary later this spring.