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Professor Bruce Branson: Combining Passion for Teaching, Research, Travel

Dr. Bruce Branson, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, Poole College Department of Accounting
Dr. Bruce Branson, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, Poole College Department of Accounting

Bruce Branson, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Accounting, has a love of teaching, passion for travel, and commitment to expanding the body of knowledge, especially in the area of enterprise risk management. He brings all of that to his role as a member of the faculty in the NC State Poole College of Management Department of Accounting.

Summer in Prague

Dr. Bruce Branson, center, with MAC students in Prague, Summer 2018
Dr. Bruce Branson, center, with MAC students during the 2018 Summer in Prague Program

Students entering the NC State Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program will have heard from Branson early on, as he sends a personal email message about the college’s Summer in Prague opportunity to each student accepted into the MAC program. He also personally answers the questions he receives back from the students about the course, which is held at the NC State European Center located in Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic.

The Jenkins MAC program has been offering the summer abroad course since 2006, with positive feedback from the students. It has been a meaningful teaching experience for Branson as well. He has led the course for eight years, teaching one of the MAC program’s core courses, Advanced Financial Accounting (ACC 510). This summer, he taught for the first time in the recently opened NC State European Center in Prague (NC State Prague for short), which offers great resources for the students in terms of classroom space, study and lounge areas, and a well-outfitted computer lab.

The Prague program offers several important benefits for the students, Branson said.

“One, this is a difficult course and taking it in a small group setting – where there is significant interaction between the students and professor – can be really helpful. Two, living abroad is eye-opening in so many ways. Learning to navigate the transportation system, ordering food, and bonding with a cohort of classmates is very rewarding,” he said.

Read what prior student participants have said about their NC State Prague MAC experiences.

“I continue to do this because I enjoy working with a small group of students and getting to know them personally, both in the class and in the cultural activities we organize,” Branson said. “This summer, we traveled to Cesky Krumlov, a small Czech town south of Prague where we stayed for three days. It is a beautifully preserved town (a UNESCO World Heritage site). We also participated in a wonderful Prague Food Tour together, had the group over for a home-cooked meal in our (faculty) apartment, and went to one of Prague’s famous underground jazz clubs for an evening of music.”

Branson alternates teaching the summer abroad course with Scott Showalter, professor of practice and as of this summer, director of the Jenkins MAC program, and other accounting professors, including Roby Sawyers and Eileen Taylor. Each of the professors teaches a course in their area of specialization.

He also has led groups of MAC students on excursions to Austria and Germany as part of the Prague MAC program. “These trips often include one or more visits to offices of the Big Four public accounting firms and learning about work and life abroad has been a real eye opener for all of us,” Branson said.

Back in Raleigh, Branson also teaches the Advanced Financial Accounting (ACC 510) course in the Jenkins MAC program curriculum.

“I really enjoy interacting with bright and hard-working students. Every class presents new questions that keep me on my toes and force me to stay current,” he said in an earlier interview. That commitment to teaching has been recognized by the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor designation awarded to him.

Advancing ERM Knowledge

Branson also teaches an elective MBA course, Overview of Enterprise Risk Management, which evolved out of his work as associate director of Poole College’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Initiative.

As part of the ERM Initiative, he collaborates with other Poole College professors and with industry leaders on research focused on risk assessment and enterprise risk oversight, and presents in executive education programs. His particular areas of expertise are determinants of financial analyst interest, time-series properties of accounting variables, and enterprise risk management adoption decisions.

Jenkins MAC and MBA students learn about ERM in a three-course sequence that includes the overview course, a course focused on risk analytics and an ERM practicum course in which they work with a client to help start an ERM process or refine an existing risk management program within the organization. MAC students also are invited to attend ERM professional workshops led by the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative at Poole College.