St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Three questions

Dave Walker: 49, director of the program for social responsibility and corporate reporting at USF-St. Petersburg

Published September 8, 2003

Q. You headed Arthur Andersen's audit practice in Florida until the accounting firm collapsed in disgrace last year. Now a local university has hired you to run its new program on corporate governance. Ironic?

Perhaps from 50,000 feet. But when you get down to the individuals, most people in the business community recognized Arthur Andersen as a leading firm in the public accounting profession, one that attracted some of the best and brightest. There were tens of thousands of Arthur Andersen people that were in no way involved in the very high-profile failures of the last two years.

Q. What are your goals for the new program?

We're going to try to develop courses in the area of forensic accounting, which is the post-mortem study of a fraud or embezzlement of funds. Forensic accountants come in and discover how the fraud was perpetrated, determine how much was missing, and begin to build a case and identify the culprits. Students could go into private practice with any of the major accounting firms, or they could go to work for federal, state or local government branches that investigate white-collar crime.

External to the university, our focus will be on the business community and the accounting profession in particular. I have done a couple of seminars this summer locally, and we will be planning a conference, probably for next spring.

Q. Do you envision the program as a resource for the average stock investor?

Absolutely. One of the messages we want to bring is that the management of companies need to think of the impact of their decisions on shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees and the community at large. Corporations have a huge impact, and the judgments that are made can affect so many people beyond those making the decision.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.