Among the vast University of Texas educational system – which includes 14 institutions of higher learning and more than 140,000 students – only the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) has earned an exclusive distinction: an endorsement by the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Higher Education Endorsement Program.

The program requires that schools gaining the endorsement must substantially cover the content of the Certified Management Accountant (CMA®) exam in their curriculum, have adequate faculty resources, be accredited by a recognized accreditation organization, and have a faculty member designated as an IMA campus advocate. Currently, more than 40 schools have been endorsed in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

For UTPB, that distinction came early in 2017, thanks in large part to the efforts of Carol Sullivan, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, associate professor of accounting. Sullivan, an IMA member for many years, first learned about the Endorsement Program at the IMA Student Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. in November 2015.

She explained, “We’re a fairly small school, with about 250 undergraduate and about 75 Master’s level accounting students, and when I heard about the Endorsement Program, I thought it was something that could help distinguish us from other educational choices in the area.” Sullivan explained that UT Permian Basin is located in a region heavily dominated by the oil and gas industry, where many companies are looking for properly trained management accountants. Many students at the school are pursuing second careers and are juggling family responsibilities along with their academic degrees.

Sullivan gained the support of the dean of UTPB’s College of Business and Engineering, Dr. Bill Price, and with that assistance, began the process of applying for endorsement. Of the process itself, she said it offered significant benefits, regardless of the outcome of the application.

“It was a great learning experience for us,” she recalled. “It got us to take a look at our curriculum and to evaluate whether we were teaching content that was truly helping our students to succeed in the real world.” She remarked that the process was “thorough but very fair.”

Gaining endorsement was step one, according to Sullivan: step two is getting students involved in the IMA Accounting Honor Society, something that she will work on this spring. Other initiatives include getting students to take advantage of the CMA Scholarship Program and starting an IMA Student Chapter in the next several years.

For more information about the IMA Higher Education Endorsement Program and an application, please visit In addition, an article that appeared in the August 2014 issue of Strategic Finance includes some excellent information about the application process and the benefits of applying for endorsement under IMA’s program. View it here at IMA’s Higher Education Endorsement Program: Certifying Quality. You can also contact Jodi Ryan, IMA director of student and academic relations, at