Accounting for Humor: On Jim “Buzz” Borra

Bob Zgorski, ′74, on Jim “Buzz” Borra

By Magazine Staff
Jim Borra

When Bob Zgorski, ’74, walked into his first accounting class, he was apprehensive and curious. “I knew accounting was the language of business, and I anticipated it to be rather serious, some might even say boring,” he said.

In walked the instructor, Jim “Buzz” Borra.

“From the very minute he stepped into the classroom, he was just a live wire,” Zgorski said. “He just had a way to communicate what was important and he did in a way to keep our attention.”

And Borra’s classes offered more than laughs. “In addition to being entertaining, he was effective. He knew the subject matter. And he also knew how to get to the important component. At the end of the day we all wanted to graduate with an accounting degree and pass the CPA exam, and Mr. Borra was wonderful at helping us know what to focus on.”

Zgorski did pass the CPA exam, partly thanks to the “buzz” words, acronyms, and memory joggers Borra—who earned an MBA from Loyola in 1976—used to help his students remember complex accounting and financial concepts.

“Accounting’s the language of business,” said Zgorski. Just through what he called the war stories, about the practical application, he kept us engaged for the whole time, and he made us all appreciate the importance of it. He knew how to get to the essence of it.”

Zgorski hadn’t seen his accounting instructor in 35 years when he and five former classmates met Borra for lunch about a year ago. Borra still teaches CPA preparation courses and lives in Bethesda, Md. “I swear it was the same Jim Borra. He was unmistakable. His sense of humor was sharper than ever.”

Now living in Glenelg, Md., Zgorski recently retired from his position as CFO for Zurich Companies’ Maryland Casualty Company and is planning to start his own small business and personal financial planning business.

“When Mr. Borra first met us, I guess I was an 18-year-old freshman,” said Zgorski, who commuted to Loyola from Reisterstown, Md. “A lot of things have gone on since that time, but the important thing is the relationships we developed. As Jim said, ‘Time is your most precious commodity.’”

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10 Comments

  • Posted by Mohammed Jawed Khan | November 19, 2013

    I took Borra CPA review course in Baltimore,MD in 1994 and passed the CPA examination. Dr. Borra is a great instructor.

  • Posted by Betsy Reider | September 6, 2014

    I took Borra’s review class in 83. Passed first time! He was great! Is he still teaching?

  • Posted by editor | September 6, 2014

    Thank you for the comment, Betsy! He is not teaching at Loyola any longer. We’re not sure whether he’s still teaching his CPA courses he was when we wrote this story in 2012.

  • Posted by T Hamm | May 17, 2016

    I took his class in 1983 too – took me two attempt to pass – I guess I needed to do more multis.

  • Posted by John Francis Borra | May 6, 2017

    Nice story; thanks. My Uncle Jim is, indeed, a card, And as his students have long testified, a brilliant teacher. God bless him.

  • Posted by Sal Ercolano - Class of 77 | May 23, 2017

    Ditto to all that has been said…if not for him, I would not have passed the CPA exam on the 1st try in November 1977. Remember his acronyms ? – TIDPIEPICO – something to do with audit standards Internal control. My class came up with the acronym, “PSFriedRibs”, I think it had to do with Internal Controls. I know he used it in his review classes for many years later. I still remember some of his classic sarcasms in class, delivered with affection, of course. Hilarious at times as long as you were not the person such sarcasm was directed.

    Thanks Jim !

    PS – The other teachers at Loyola – Rice and Guericio also gave us a good foundation to apply the principals to the test.

  • Posted by Glenn Lankford | July 7, 2017

    I attended Benjamin Franklin University in DC, and had Jim Borra. I also took his CPA review course, passing on one try in November 1980. It’s amazing the impact a good instructor can have. This afternoon one of my associates asked me a question about something, and it made me think of Jim, and the way he had explained the concept so many years ago. I Googled him, and found this site. Thanks for the memories.

  • Posted by Karen (Gallahan) Jones | October 6, 2017

    Yesterday was apparently National Teacher’s Day and the UMD alumni association put out a facebook post to honor your favorite UMD teacher. Mine without a doubt was Dr. Borra. I took his classes at UMD and subsequently his Borra CPA review. I too passed the entire exam on my first attempt. I still have my Don’t be an OP t-shirt, though I don’t do 10 multi’s every night while brushing my teeth anymore. He was a great teacher, just as everyone has attested to in their remarks. He always struck the perfect balance between serious and humorous. Took a quick moment to google him this morning to see what I would find, and this article popped up. Thanks Dr. Borra for having such a positive impact on my life!

  • Posted by ed stolle | October 31, 2017

    Thanks to Dr. Borra I passed the CPA exam in May 1990. He is the best! He rode my back hard (some days I left the class “hating” him) and helped me earn the Elijah Watt Cells Award. He is quite a character and I remember him fondly.

  • Posted by Brian Steuart | November 14, 2017

    I attended Borra CPA review in Spring of 91 & 92. When I sat for the exam, I had to take two additional parts. I learned, after taking his class the second time for those parts that you have to sit in the first three rows. Yes, you get Picked on, a lot!!!!! But, you learned from that. He is an incredible teacher and I am proud to have met him, known him and learned from him. Brian

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