Lonnie C. Poole Jr. College of Management at North Carolina State University

Ernst & Young Awards $500,000 to Accounting Dept. for Second Life Projects

by Anna Rzewnicki

Monday, Jan 26, 2009

The use of virtual worlds and Second Life in the classroom and in business settings is intensifying, and the College of Management at NC State is widely recognized as providing leadership in this area.

The Ernst & Young Foundation has awarded $400,000 to the North Carolina State University College of Management to support development of a Second Life presence for the college’s Department of Accounting.

The award is part of the foundation’s competitive University Fund Grant program. An additional $100,000 has been committed to the college’s accounting department by Ernst & Young (EY) employees who are NC State alumni and will also be used for the Second Life project. This combined gift of $500,000 represents the largest single gift to date to the accounting department at NC State University.

Second Life is a virtual global community that is used for distance communications, collaboration, education and entertainment. Several of the NC State College of Management faculty members have been developing the college’s island in Second Life over the past year, using the virtual land as a meeting space for classroom instruction, student team projects and research meetings.

Lynda Aiman-Smith, associate professor in the college’s Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Claudia Kimbrough, marketing lecturer in the Department of Business Management, will be working with the accounting department to develop the new project. Aiman-Smith and Kimbrough presented a report on their use of Second Life in teaching and research at NC State University’s LITRE (Learning in a Technology Rich Environment) Expo on Jan. 13. Their work was part of a Virtual Online Learning and Teaching project completed with colleagues in NC State’s College of Education.

Kimbrough also has developed two machinimas – computer-generated videos – that explain the growing role of virtual worlds in business and applications for teaching and learning. Mitzi Montoya, Zelnak Professor of Innovation Management at the college, has also conducted research and taught in the virtual environment.

“We very much appreciate this support from Ernst and Young and look forward to working with our faculty to build this new presence,” said Frank Buckless, professor of accounting and department head. “When completed, our department’s Second Life community will include project-based learning experiences, study abroad and service learning opportunities, and student recruitment and career service activities for current and future students in the undergraduate and Master of Accounting programs.

“Second Life is one of many virtual worlds that are emerging on the Internet, and it has attracted mainstream business media coverage for the opportunities it provides and is currently being utilized for a Learning and Development pilot project at Ernst & Young,” said Michael Constantino, partner at the EY office in Raleigh and member of the college’s Board of Advisors.

“The use of virtual worlds and Second Life in the classroom and in business settings is intensifying, and the College of Management at NC State is widely recognized as providing leadership in this area,” he said. “Ernst & Young’s support of this project will give us a unique and unprecedented presence in Second Life, among the first of its kind. This award further recognizes the long-standing relationship EY has with NC State. The financial commitment from our 75 NC State alumni working for EY also sends a strong message of support in these uncertain economic times.”

About the Ernst & Young Foundation

The Ernst & Young Foundation (US) was formed in 1937 to provide effective and meaningful philanthropic support to institutions of higher education, primarily in the areas of accounting, tax, and general business. Ernst & Young and the Foundation have gifted more than $100 million to educational organizations throughout the United States. Last year the Ernst & Young Foundation contributed more than $5 million in matching funds to higher education, matching the eligible contributions of EY active and retired personnel.

About the North Carolina State University College of Management

The North Carolina State University College of Management is a comprehensive business college with uniquely focused graduate and undergraduate programs that prepare individuals for careers in today’s dynamic, technology-rich, global business environment. The faculty integrates real world experiences with classroom instruction, drawing on their research and practical experience. Project-based classes have student teams working with companies to provide solutions to real issues being faced by businesses and industries today. The college’s Undergraduate Programs include bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business management and economics. The Jenkins Graduate School of Management in the college includes the Master of Accounting, Master of Business Administration, Economics Masters’ and Ph.D. programs, and Master of Global Innovation Management programs.

NC State College of Management Campus Box 8614, Raleigh, NC 27617