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WVU forensics comes to Iceland

Dr. Richard Dull presenting in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University is becoming the "go-to" institution for education on forensic accounting and fraud prevention. 

In addition to taking part in national conferences and seminars on the topics, WVU faculty have also been to several countries, most recently France, Bahrain and, now, Iceland.

During the fall semester, Dr. Richard Dull, associate professor of accounting, presented a six-day course in Reykjavik, the nation's capital and largest city. 

"I received an e-mail out of the blue asking if I could teach a graduate-level forensic accounting course at Reykjavik University," he said.

That message came from Páll Ríkharðsson, director of master's programs in finance and accounting at the school.

Dr. Ríkharðsson said forensic accounting and fraud prevention has been a "blind spot" in the education of auditors in Iceland.

"It has been touched upon in other courses but not in any systematic manner," he commented. "I thought it would be a valuable addition to the curriculum to offer such a course, especially seen in the light of what has been happening in Iceland for the past four years with the focus on fraud and corporate governance since the crash in 2008."

The Reykjavik ClassThe three biggest Icelandic banks, which had expanded broadly during the credit bubble that was part of the international recession onset, all failed and were nationalized in October 2008. The country, previously called the Nordic Tiger during its expansion years, emerged from recession in 2010. 

According to Bloomberg, "Few countries blew up more spectacularly than Iceland in the 2008 financial crisis. The local stock market plunged 90 percent; unemployment rose nine fold; inflation shot to more than 18 percent; the country's biggest banks all failed."

Much of this pain was a result of fraud.

Ríkharðsson said he asked colleagues about courses in fraud detection and prevention. In their responses, WVU stood out.

"The program and courses at WVU seemed closest to what I was looking for, and (Professor Dull) came with excellent recommendations from my network," he said. For a course he taught, Ríkharðsson had used Accounting Information Systems, which Dr. Dull wrote with Ulric J. Gelinas, Bentley University and Patrick Wheeler, University of Missouri.

Reykjavik UniversityBy all accounts, the course Dull taught went well. Ríkharðsson reported that student reviews rated the course at 4.7 out of a possible 5.0. "The student reviews have been excellent, and comments to me have been extremely positive. Students coming up through the system are excited about the course and look forward to taking it. It has been a very valuable addition to our auditing curriculum," he said.

Planning for a joint conference is under way, along with other collaborations between Morgantown and Reykjavik. The course in Iceland will be taught every year from now on, Ríkharðsson said, and he is interested in creating research collaborations with WVU in the future.

The trip to Reykjavik was not Dull's first teaching trip abroad. In 2008-09 he served as a Fulbright Scholar and taught for a semester in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Additionally, he was a co-leader for the College's MBA study abroad trip to Germany last summer.

Dull earned bachelor's degrees in computer applications and accounting from Harding University, an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech University. Before joining WVU, he was an associate professor of accounting at Clemson University.

He has had extensive experience in accounting and information systems including his time as a founding partner and owner of a CPA/Consulting Co. in Greensboro, N.C. His research has been published in Journal of Information Systems, Issues in Accounting Education, Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting, and International Journal of Accounting Information Systems.