(May 8, 2009)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

FSOB and Service Learning Combine Forces to Offer New Programs

alt text
(left to right) Centenary students Sammy Robinson, Jessica Marquart, and Stephanie Beauvais; residents of The Glen Harold and Gloria Green; Director of Development for the Glen, Susan Skinner; Chris Lavan, Director of Service-Learning; and Centenary professor Dr. Helen Sikes

SHREVEPORT, La.—The Frost School of Business and Office of Service Learning combined forces recently to bring computer technology to the residents of The Glen Retirement System when they donated two computers for a new computer literacy program, and with a pilot tax preparation program.

The idea behind the donation was the brain child of Susan Skinner, Director of Development and Strategic Planning when she called Centenary to see if students could do some type of computer literacy program for the seniors of The Glen. The only problem was that they had no modern computers that the students or the residents could use.

She also contacted Chris Martin, Dean of the Frost School of Business, to se if there were any computers at the business school that were no longer needed and could be donated. Martin quickly stepped in and found two computers that could be donated.

"The Glen is one of Centenary's Service-Learning partners and each semester, students have the opportunity to take part in one of the many opportunities and programs," said Chris Lavan, Director for Office of Community. "The computers will be used in the fall to begin a new Computer Literacy initiative where Centenary students will be able to go to The Glen and teach the seniors basic computer skills."

According to Michelle Roberts, Director of Marketing for The Glen, this is a great partnership for both organizations. "The residents are eager to learn but we have not had the resources, the necessary skills or tools," she said. "As a not-for profit, we are always looking for partnerships and know that this will be a great opportunity to provide both groups with what they need...the students with service learning hours and our residents the opportunity to learn computer basics."

Besides the computer donations, the Centenary College Frost School of Business implemented a pilot service-learning project this past spring to provide free electronic tax preparation services to members of the Centenary community and residents of the Highland area. Sponsored by Dr. Helen B. Sikes, Professor of Accounting and Finance, students participating in the project achieved valuable experience electronically preparing and filing federal and state tax returns.

alt text
Stephanie Beauvais, Dr. Helen Sikes, and Jessica Marquart

"Area residents and community members received cost-savings of tax preparation fees which can easily reach $250 at nationally advertised firms," said Sikes. "Two of our students, Stephanie Beauvais and Jessica Mar quart, junior accounting and finance majors, participated in the pilot service project and prepared more than 40 federal and state tax returns in nine different states." The students interviewed the taxpayers and prepared the returns and after a review by the Sikes, the returns were electronically filed with the IRS and the various states. The popularity of this project has encouraged students to want to participate in this service event next year, possibly up to 17 students participating next spring.

Besides the tax preparation, both students will participate in a summer student-faculty Research Grant at the College with Sikes and Dr. Barbara J. Davis, Sample Chair in Business. "The students will conduct research on other accounting-based service learning projects that have been successfully implemented in other colleges and universities," added Sikes. The students and professors are scheduled to participate in a panel discussion and share their experiences in the Tax Preparation Service Learning Project and other research results at the national meeting of the American Accounting Association's Teaching and Learning Conference in New York City later this summer.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.