New Paltz Professor Receives Education Award

Rief Kanan is the 2014 recipient of the Dr. Emanuel Saxe Outstanding CPA in Education Award.

A lecturer and director of the Business Institute at SUNY New Paltz, Kanan received the award because of his successful teaching and his promotion of the accounting profession.

Kanan, who has been at SUNY New Paltz since 1997 as an adjunct professor, full-time professor and director of the Business Institute, said he views receiving this award as a “lifetime achievement award.”

“The names I’m associated with as a result of this award are the marquee names of public accounting and accounting education,” Kanan said.  “The award itself is named after Dr. Emanuel Saxe, who founded the accounting program at Baruch College. From my point of view, it’s the highest honor that a crossover practioners to academics can get.”

Kanan said he was nominated for the award by Interim Dean of the Business School Chih-Yang Tsai, his colleagues, students and members of firms he has worked with.

Tsai said Kanan is an important member of the School of Business’ faculty because of the way he connects the college with the business community.

“Because of his involvement with the business community, we were able to improve our curriculum and know what the business community needs from our students,” Tsai said.

Kanan said the School of Business was founded in 2002 because of the support received by the Business Advisory council, which is composed of external advisors to the dean and the faculty of the business climate, and what makes sense in terms of curriculum and what’s happening in the real world.

Later, the council recommended the business school needs more connections, so the Business Institute was created.

Kanan said he hopes the recognition received from winning this award will allow the Business Institute to grow and finally work on the ideas he’s had for years.

“I have every intention of seeing the accounting program strengthen and grow,” Kanan said. “The knowledge of content of accounting and auditing is going through a dramatic change, so we have to stay up with that and the only way we’re going to do that is by staying connected to our business community.”

Yang said Kanan’s award will help “enhance” the program going forward through the promotion it will receive, recruiting good students for the program and convincing outsiders to invest in the program.

Kanan said he wouldn’t have been able to receive the Dr. Emanuel Saxe Outstanding CPA in Education Award without the support of his wife, Nancy, and his colleagues in the School of Business.

“I can’t do stuff without the support of Chih-Yang, the support of my colleagues and faculty, without their commitment to excellence and without the school itself, who is the foundation for us to do what we do,” Kanan said.  “[My colleagues] are involved in all different levels of consulting and business activity. If it weren’t for that atmosphere there’s no way I can do what I do here.”

Ultimately, Kanan wants New Paltz to become a big player in the business community.

“We hear too much about us being a well-kept secret,” Kanan said.  “We don’t want to be the well kept secret anymore, we want to be the badly-kept secret. We want to broadcast all over the world. “

Kanan will receive his award on Thursday, May 15 at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, during the annual New York State Society of CPA’s annual conference.