MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — With an extensive background in international accounting and licensed as both a lawyer and CPA, Jarett “Jerry” Decker hopes to bring his global and legal experience to bear as the new Joey A. Jacobs Chair of Excellence in Accounting and Professor of Practice within MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business.
“I had always dreamed of teaching,” said Decker, who’s teaching three courses within the Department of Accounting for the fall semester. “I’d always imagined that down the line somewhere that I would like to take what I’d learned and go into teaching.”
The chair is sponsored by veteran health care executive and MTSU Board of Trustees member Joey Jacobs. The inaugural chair was Tom Walker (Class of ’78), former managing partner of Deloitte’s Nashville, Tennessee, office.
“I am thrilled that Mr. Decker is now the holder of the Joey Jacobs Chair of Excellence in Accounting,” said Jones College of Business Dean David Urban. “He brings a wealth of accounting and regulatory experience to our college. He also diversifies the interests of our faculty due to his work in other countries with international accounting standards and fraud prevention.
“He is an energetic person who has a passion for the field of accounting, and he is a most welcome addition to MTSU.”
International expertise - A former head of the World Bank’s Centre for Financial Reporting Reform in Vienna, Austria, Decker has advised governments on reforms to improve corporate accounting, auditing and governance in more than 30 developing and transitional countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Calling his MTSU appointment “a wonderful opportunity,” Decker most recently was an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law where he designed courses on anti-money laundering and offshore financial centers. He has also taught accounting, auditing and business law as an adjunct at the business school of Nova Southeastern University, a private university in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In recent years, he has worked on improving capacities for corporate accounting in developing and former communist nations and hopes to pursue academic research and writing in that area in collaboration with other MTSU faculty.
Decker was the first person to serve as deputy director and chief trial counsel for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, the entity created by Congress to police corporate auditing in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals.
He established and led the PCAOB’s program of disciplinary litigation against Big Four and other public accounting firms for violations of auditing standards, ethics, and securities laws in the auditing of publicly traded companies and broker-dealers.
Before his PCAOB service, Decker was senior trial counsel for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Chicago. He’s been quoted on issues of international financial governance and transparency in the Financial Times, The Asian Banker, and the NewStraits Times (Malaysia), among other publications.
He served as an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute from 1995 through 2003 and has published articles in the New York Times and Reason magazine, among others.
Developing five-year plan - Decker applauded MTSU’s Accounting Department, saying “a lot of amazing work” is being done there and that he’s impressed with the “diverse array of talent there. I’d like to be able to add to their efforts.”
In 2021, AACSB International, the premier accrediting body in business education worldwide, extended Jones College’s business and accounting accreditations for another five years.
As Jacobs chairholder, Decker said he is developing a five-year plan with Urban and wants to join in the outreach efforts by MTSU’s Accounting Department, both within the Metro Nashville area and internationally, whether it be through sponsored events or other avenues.
This fall, he will teach three courses: two sections of introductory financial accounting and a capstone course for master’s students where he will have a chance to engage with them on topics such as the technical challenges of financial reporting, the role of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other national and global institutions, and their recent work in shaping accounting, among others.
Decker said it’s critical for accounting students to develop strong communication skills in a profession that often is influenced and shaped by periods of financial scandals and misdeeds.
“It’s often neglected in the profession, but accounting is a major area where good communication really counts, and by that, I mean being able to communicate both to people who understand accounting, but also — and here’s the real challenge — communicating accounting issues to people who are not well-versed in accounting.”
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