Univ. pioneers forensic CoOp

Maria Brachelli

Students in the College of Commerce and Finance were given the opportunity last spring to participate in a Forensic Accounting/Economic Crimes Cooperative Education Program, the first of its kind offered in the country. The Center for Student Advising and Professional Development, housed within the College of Commerce and Finance, introduced the program with the aid of the Delaware County District Attorney and University alumni Mike Green, along with the supervisor of the economic crimes division of the criminal investigation unit, Joe Ryan.

In the past, the only CoOp available to students through Villanova’s CSDP was at Johnson and Johnson.

The first student to try this opportunity is junior accounting and finance major Matthew Noble, who began working in the Delaware County courthouse in Media, Pa., on July 5. The full-time paid position will keep Noble on the job through finals week in December.

Brenda Stover, Director of CSAPD, said, “The career development implications of participating in such an experience are significant: many of the large public accounting firms are developing specialized groups that focus on forensic accounting … C&F students who’ve participated in the CoOp will bring an understanding and skill level to such opportunities not found in your typical accounting graduate. Additionally, CoOps who wish to go onto law school will bring with them a frame of reference that many law school students don’t achieve until they’ve completed a year or two of law school.”

The CoOp’s design is similar to that of many other work experience programs – students receive six free elective credits and are required to maintain a daily log of their progress, as well as complete a 10-to 12-page paper at the completion of the semester. Noble currently manages his time between the full-time position and two other evening classes so that he may complete the required credits of the double major on time.

“It makes for a tight schedule, but it’s not impossible to do,” he said.

“My whole job is to basically just assist the detectives in the economic fraud unit of the criminal investigation department of the Delaware County DA Office,” Noble said.

He also points out that besides raking through old case files and people’s bank records to determine where fraud has occurred, the detectives gave him other responsibilities too, so that he may understand their work, including interviewing a suspect and writing affidavits.

“When I go to interviews, I think it’ll give me something to talk about,” Noble said referring to the fact that this is the first such program in the country. “It’s not your typical internship; it’s an opportunity that not many undergraduates have.”

In speaking of the detectives in the economic crimes division of the criminal investigation unit at the courthouse, Noble said, “They all help me learn the law aspect of it. It’s kind of like a learning process for all of us. Everyone I work with has been great. It’s not like I go and get coffee for everyone – they treat me like one of the guys. That’s what makes it so easy to go to work everyday. I really feel like they value my work.”

Speaking for the college, Stover said, “C&F feels privileged to have been sought out by DA Mike Green to partner this exciting program. The CoOp provides benefits for all involved – C&F students, the DA’s Office and the citizens of Delaware County.