Friday, January 14, 2022

Tippie hosts the first annual RSM Tax Jeopardy Competition

Tax Jeopardy

The air was abuzz with anticipation. A capacity crowd of students, professors, and tax professionals eagerly chatted under a massive blue game screen in the Pappajohn Business Building. Then the unmistakable Jeopardy melody began.

It was time for the final round of the first annual RSM Tax Jeopardy Competition.

As the two teams of Introduction to Taxation students collaborated with their team members to answer the final Jeopardy question, Chuck Orr (BBA72/JD75/MA75) sat near the back of the audience with a smile on his face.

Orr, a retired partner from RSM, was instrumental in making the day possible, helping to establish the RSM Wilfred (Bill) H. Heitritter Excellence in Tax Fund at the University of Iowa after Heitritter’s death in 2015.

Jeopardy contestants

Orr and Bill Heitritter (BBA72/JD75/MA75) were partners at RSM, and he wanted to honor his friend of over 40 years while helping the next generation of accounting students. The resulting fund supports students to participate in experiential learning related to tax education and research.

Originally the funds were used to send a small handful of students to existing competitions, but when COVID-19 brought about a pause in these events, it prompted innovation.

Associate Professor Kay Hegarty (BBA80) approached Accounting Department Executive Officer Cristi Gleason and said, “There has to be a better way to use the funds to benefit a broader cross section of students. She asked me what I had in mind. With this Tax Jeopardy competition, we were able to create and host a fun event with RSM and involve around 100 students instead of just a few.”

Tax Jeopardy contestants

The four-round competition began with 12 teams and offered extra credit and small gift cards to students participating as competitors or audience members. In addition, students participating in the semi-final and final rounds were each competing for up to $600 in tuition credits. The winning team—Anthony Mullan, Blake Shultz, and Zachary Willenzik—took home a total value of $700 each for demonstrating their tax mastery.

“I thought it was tremendous,” Orr remarked after the event. “Bill was a really competitive guy, so he would have loved this!”

RSM colleagues and close personal friends, Jason Wagner (BBA99) and Joe McCarragher (BBA99), were the “Alex Trebeks” of the event, complete with “game-show host” grey wigs and flashy Hawkeye jackets. The two were hired by RSM on the same day 22 years ago.

Jeopardy winners with sponsors and hosts

In his opening remarks, McCarragher, who is also a Professional Accounting Council member, said “If it wasn’t for Chuck’s heart for his friend and his heart for accounting, the students at the UI wouldn’t have this opportunity.”

“You’ll find in your career, it’s friendships that matter.”



This article appeared in the 2022 issue of Iowa Ledger.