Ten Seniors Named UM Hall of Fame Inductees

Recipients honored for service, achievement and potential for success

The 2018 University of Mississippi Hall of Fame. Photo by by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten University of Mississippi seniors have been inducted into the university’s 2017-18 Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors afforded students at Ole Miss.

The inductees were honored Friday afternoon (April 6) in a ceremony at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A campus committee chooses Hall of Fame members in accordance with policy developed by the Associated Student Body. Selections are based on outstanding contributions in all aspects of campus life.

This year’s Hall of Fame members are Allen Coon of Petal; Christopher Feazell of Mendenhall; Terrence Johnson of Shuqualak; Jiwon Lee of Oxford; Megan McLeod of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Savannah Smith of Corinth; Austin Spindler of Savannah, Tennessee; Elizabeth Taylor of Whitesboro, Texas; Jacob Thrasher of Birmingham, Alabama; Ingrid Valbuena of Maracaibo, Venezuela.

“Each of the students selected for Hall of Fame has a record of scholarship and service to the university community and has impacted the Ole Miss campus in a positive way,” said Mindy Sutton Noss, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. “Hall of Fame is a fitting way to recognize the legacy that each of them leaves at the University of Mississippi.”

The 10 students were among 200 seniors recognized for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students at the University of Mississippi.

“The Hall of Fame is a time-honored process that has identified students who have gone on to make a true difference in the world,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This year’s inductees have made a mark on our institution and have developed abilities that will serve them well in their careers.”

Allen Coon

Pursuing a double major in public policy leadership and African American studies, Coon is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. As an ASB senator, Coon worked with NAACP student organizers to remove the Mississippi state flag from campus and co-organized the #OccupytheLyceum protest, a spontaneous sit-in demanding an administrative response to campus racism. He previously served as president of UM College Democrats and UM Voters Everywhere. After graduation, he plans to attain both a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree and become a community organizer and civil servant. Coon’s parents are Kay Kolwe Coon and Howard Coon, both of Petal.

Christopher Feazell

Feazell, an accountancy major, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He served in several roles over the course of his education, including vice president of programming for the National Association of Black Accountants, vice president of the Black Student Union, treasurer of the Accountancy ASB, Luckyday Scholar and the Columns Society. Fezell plans to pursue a master’s degree in taxation in the university’s Patterson School of Accountancy, pass the CPA exam and begin a career at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Atlanta upon graduation. His parents are Stephanie Berry of Mendenhall and Christopher Eugene Feazell of Mt. Olive.

Terrence Johnson

A journalism major, Johnson has served as president of the Men of Excellence, the largest male minority organization at the university. He also served as public relations director for the Columns Society, anchor for NewsWatch TV, co-president of the UM Association of Black Journalists, an orientation leader and coordinator. After graduation, Johnson plans to pursue a master’s degree in video storytelling and narrative writing at the University of California at Berkeley. His parents are George Lee and Angela Johnson of Shuqualak.

Jiwon Lee

Lee is a music performance major with an emphasis on flute and violin performance. She was drum major for the Pride of the South Marching Band, principal flutist of the Ole Miss Wind Ensemble and ensemble violinist for the LOU Symphony. A member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Lee was president of the Korean Student Association and recipient of the Marcus Guinn Spirit Award. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in music education and music performance at the university. Lee’s parents are Jongbok and Aeran Moon Lee of Oxford.

Megan McLeod

McLeod, an economics major with a minor in chemistry, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Columns Society, and founder of the Hotty Toddy Tutors LLC, a student-run tutoring company. She is founding vice president of the UM chapter of the American Medical Women’s Society, vice president of chapter development for Phi Mu fraternity and recipient of the Trailblazer Award from Fraternal Leadership and Learning. After graduation, McLeod plans to pursue a medical degree at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her parents are Bill and Christine McLeod of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Savannah Smith

Smith is completing a double major in journalism and public policy leadership. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Leadership Institute scholar, she is Miss Ole Miss, executive director of the Big Event, vice president of the Columns Society, an orientation leader and an executive officer in Chi Omega sorority. After graduation, Smith will attend New York University to pursue a master’s degree in journalism with a magazine emphasis. Her parents are Tim and Tracy Smith of Corinth.

Austin Spindler

Spindler is a public policy leadership major in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. He has served as assistant director of the Big Event, senior executive assistant to the ASB president, ASB secretary, staffing director of the UM Food Bank and IFC vice president of public relations. Spindler plans to move to Washington, D.C., to pursue a career in consulting. His parents are Richard and Dana Spindler of Savannah, Tennessee.

Elizabeth Taylor

A sociology major, member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Taylor served as a mentor in the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. She also served as a peer educator for Rebels Against Sexual Assault and was the first junior-entry student to receive the Barksdale Award. After graduation, Taylor plans to pursue a doctorate in sociology at the University of Missouri. Her parents are Elizabeth A. Taylor of Sadler, Texas, and the late Marshall Lee Taylor.

Jacob Thrasher

Thrasher, a chemistry major in the biochemistry track, served as president of Omicron Delta Kappa, past president of Rebels Against Sexual Assault and a panelist for the Huffington Post’s Listen to America Tour. An editorial cartoonist for the Daily Mississippian and Oxford Eagle, he received the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Region 12 Award for best political cartoonist. Thrasher has been accepted to graduate school at Yale University. Where he plans pursue a doctorate in biology and biological sciences. His parents are Christy Branton Thrasher of Birmingham, Alabama, and the late Michael Aaron Thrasher.

Ingrid Valbuena

Valbuena is an integrated marketing communications major and a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She served as vice president of administration for Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and was an orientation leader and coordinator. A member of the Columns Society, Valbuena also hosted “sad girls, bad girls,” a weekly program on Rebel Radio. Her plans are to earn a master’s degree in IMC and advertising and become a college professor. Valbuena’s parents are Marcos Valbuena and Omarly Acina of Maracaibo, Venezuela.


Accountancy School Readies Master’s Programs Featuring Data Analytics

Both new degrees are the only ones of their kind in Mississippi

The Patterson School of Accountancy has teamed with the audit and tax firm KPMG LLP to offer two new graduate degrees. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Patterson School of Accountancy will be offering two new graduate degrees incorporating data analytics beginning this fall.

The board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning has approved the curricula for the Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and the Master of Taxation and Data Analytics. Both degree programs require 30 credit hours to complete and are the only ones of their kind in the state.

KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, collaborated with the Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business and the Villanova School of Business to develop the award-winning Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics program in 2016 and disrupt the audit profession’s education experience. A year later, KPMG expanded the program to nine schools, including the Patterson School of Accountancy.

The 135 participants in the program’s second class each will receive funding equivalent to the full cost of attendance, an internship on a KPMG audit or tax team, and a fulltime position with the firm through an advanced entry program upon graduation. The Ole Miss program will include 30 of those students.

“The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy and KPMG have enjoyed a tremendous partnership for many years,” said Mark Wilder, the school’s dean and KPMG Chair of Accountancy at UM. “We are proud to be offering master’s degrees in taxation and data analytics, as well as in accounting and data analytics.

“It is a high privilege to work with KPMG to provide innovative graduate programs to help develop future professionals for the data age.”

“I’m very proud that KPMG is joining with Ole Miss in offering this dual degree in accountancy and tax with data and analytics,” said Ole Miss alumnus and KPMG partner Chuck Walker (BA 79), who serves as a KPMG campus executive for the university.

“This innovative program will equip students coming into the accounting profession with the tools to understand today’s cutting edge technologies, give them hands-on experience with D&A and will incorporate intelligent automation technologies to increase efficiency, reduce risk and add value. We believe these skills represent core competencies for business professionals as we look into the future.”

The other universities in the KPMG initiative are: Arizona State, Baylor, Ohio State and Villanova University; Virginia Tech; and the universities of Georgia, Missouri and Southern California. Ole Miss is the only university KPMG is working with in the area of taxation and data analytics.

At least three new courses are being created for the new degrees. Several existing courses that will be part of the new degree programs are getting a significant makeover to boost their focus on data analytics.

“We are in the process of hiring several new faculty members” Wilder said. “I anticipate that all of the new faculty will be involved in the data analytics graduate degree programs.

“Also, several of our existing faculty members will play a significant role in the course offerings for the new degree programs.”

The Public Accounting Report has ranked the Patterson School of Accountancy among the country’s top 10 accounting programs for each of the last seven years. The school is poised to help fill a critical need for professionals in data analytics training, Wilder said.

The market for professional master’s degrees is expected to grow faster over the next decade than will bachelor’s or doctoral degrees, according to the Educational Advisory Board. The board also predicts that specialized business-related degrees will be among the fastest-growing areas of professional graduate education.

Accounting and taxation degrees with special emphasis in data analytics would be included in this type of degree with tremendous growth opportunity.

UM accountancy faculty and alumni are thrilled about the new programs.

“KPMG is sending us 30 students each year for the next three years for the programs, and they are paying the tuition and reasonable living expenses of these 30 students, plus promising them an internship and a job at graduation,” said Dale Flesher, professor of accountancy, associate dean and holder of the Roland and Sheryl Burns Chair.

“That says a lot about the firm’s confidence in the Ole Miss School of Accountancy. In addition, we can admit other students to the degree programs.”

The school has received a four-year grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation to provide funding for five Mississippi students per year to attend one of the new degree programs. The support will include tuition costs and a stipend.

The Hearin grant also provides funding for two new faculty members for three years.

“We are very grateful to the Hearin Support Foundation for making such a significant investment in our new degree programs,” Wilder said. “Our goal is to deliver an educational experience to our students that will make the Hearin trustees proud.”

The inaugural class of students in the KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics program started classes at both Ohio State and Villanova in fall 2017.

“We are getting in on the ground floor of this movement,” Flesher said. “Where we are really ahead of the game is with respect to the Master of Taxation in Data Analytics. I think we are the only school in the country with such a program.

“These degree programs will be great for the national visibility of Ole Miss. This will certainly raise our national reputation even more.”

According to a recent study conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants and Robert Half International, the most “missing” skills among accountants all deal with data analytics, data analysis and decision analysis. The Journal of Accountancy recently referred to data analytics as the “next frontier” for accountants.

Moreover, Jobs.net recently reported, “There will be 4 million big-data related positions by 2018, along with a 1.5 million shortage of people to fill them.”

“It was our desire to create a new Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics degree as well as a new Master of Taxation and Data Analytics degree because we believed this would make the new degree programs more visible, and also more valuable for the students receiving the degrees,” Wilder said.

For more information about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit https://accountancy.olemiss.edu/.

For more information about the KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program, visit http://www.KPMGmasters.com.

UM Wraps Up Annual Speaker’s Edge Competition

Winners presented awards at ceremony delayed by inclement weather

MBA students Corey Price (left), Ferderica Cobb and Jonathan Dowell swept the awards at the annual UM Speaker’s Edge competition. Price took third place in the Ethical Dilemmas and Marketplace Pitch categories; Cobb grabbed first in Ethical Dilemmas and second in Marketplace Pitch, as well as the overall championship; and Dowell took second in Ethical Dilemmas and first in Marketplace Pitch. UM photo by Stella Connell

OXFORD, Miss. – After a rare snow day pre-empted he final day of the 15th annual Speaker’s Edge competition at the University of Mississippi, the School of Business Administration recently got participants back together to present awards and wrap up the event.

Nearly 100 students participated in this year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge, which was dominated in the awards by three students from the on-campus Master of Business Administration program.

In the Ethical Dilemmas category, Ferderica Cobb, of Canton, took first place, followed by Jonathan Dowell, of Port Gibson, in second, and Corey Price, of Birmingham, Alabama, in third. In this category, participants presented their best solutions to workplace challenges where suggestions of sexual harassment, bribery, appropriation of intellectual property, plagiarism, per diem abuse and inappropriate office behavior were presented.

In the Marketplace Pitch completion, Dowell came in first, followed by Cobb and then Price. These presentations were persuasive arguments regarding technology, innovation productivity, leadership and strategy. Dowell’s winning pitch advocated using battery technology to close the performance gap between renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Cobb’s stellar performance in both categories earned her the title of overall winner for the competition, which includes a $1,000 prize.

“Speaker’s Edge was a great experience – receiving feedback from the coaches, moving from room to room, presenting our speeches to judges, competing with classmates – I enjoyed the intensity of it all,” Cobb said. “The event challenged me in new ways, and I will take those skills with me into the professional world.

“Everyone’s ideas were so interesting, and I knew there were strong presentations from my classmates. I did not expect to win. I was humbled, and it is a huge honor to be the 2018 winner.”

This year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge kicked off Jan. 11, featuring 97 students from the UM School of Business Administration and Patterson School of Accountancy. More than 50 judges from all over the Mid-South volunteered their time to help at the event.

“Speaker’s Edge provides students an opportunity to develop the communication and presentation skills that are vital to success in business and other leadership settings,” said Walter Davis, faculty adviser to the MBA program. “Students often point to the Speaker’s Edge experience as a highlight of their MBA or Master of Accountancy program at Ole Miss.”

Plans called for a new Team Pitch category at this year’s event, but snow and ice across much of north Mississippi forced the cancellation of the final day of competition, including the Team Pitch presentations.

“It is disappointing that Mother Nature prevented us from the opportunity to review these presentations, but this something to look forward to in next year’s competition,” said Ashley McGee, director of the MBA program.

The Speaker’s Edge competition was started by Ole Miss alumni in 2003. The event brings together industry professionals, retirees, working alumni and students, requiring students to adapt their message to different audiences.

In preparation, participants spent a week-and-a-half working with volunteer communication coaches to discover the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal presentation style in front of multiple judges.

“One great thing about Speaker’s Edge: When you see a student move through fear and become the confident speaker they will be for the rest of their lives,” said Joan Andrews, a Speaker’s Edge coach from the College of East Texas.

The annual event helps students find their own voice and grow more confident in their presentations, said JoAnn Edwards, speech instructor, director of forensics and special projects manager at the UM Lott Leadership Institute.

“The outcomes are beyond valuable – they are vital,” Edwards said. “The act of teaching, guiding and coaching that process is, for me and for all the coaches and judges who give of their time and talents, pure joy.”

The Speaker’s Edge competition is a critical program that helps Ole Miss students position themselves for success as they move into the professional world, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“The competitive nature of the program allows our best student presenters and speakers to get even better while honing the skills of those students who are less confident in this environment,” Cyree said. “We greatly appreciate the dedicated coaches, instructors and judges who are involved in making this an exceptional opportunity for our students.”

Estate Gift to Benefit UM Patterson School of Accountancy

Major contribution will establish new chair, among other support

Mary and Lucian Minor share a moment during the dedication of Minor Hall in 2013. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent $6.3 million gift from the estate of alumnus and University of Mississippi supporter Lucian S. Minor will establish a new chair within the Patterson School of Accountancy while also providing scholarships and supporting the school’s academic programs and activities.

The Lucian S. Minor Chair of Accountancy Endowment will support the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty to ensure that quality teaching, research and service will be available for generations of UM students, Dean Mark Wilder said.

“We are extremely grateful to Lucian Minor for his foresight to include the Patterson School of Accountancy in his estate planning,” Wilder said. “The generosity of Mr. Minor will enable us to ensure a quality education for students through scholarships, faculty support and operating funds for our program.

“We are honored to have the Lucian Minor name and legacy forever associated with the Patterson School of Accountancy.”

Planned gifts award donors membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes those who thoughtfully provide for the university through bequests and deferred gifts.

Minor’s gift also establishes the Lucian S. Minor Accountancy Endowment, which will provide funds for academic programs and activities, and supplements the existing Lucian S. Minor Scholarship in Accountancy Endowment, established by Minor and his wife, Mary, in 1998.

“He was a remarkable individual whom I was very proud to have known well for many years,” said Larry Hardy, of Memphis. Hardy earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ole Miss in 1968 and a master’s degree in accountancy in 1969. Minor hired Hardy to work for him at Ernst & Young right out of college.

“To have worked with him and then to have known him personally after working with him … he just became a really good friend,” Hardy said. “I was so pleased that he chose Ole Miss and the School of Accountancy to be the beneficiary of his will.”

A UM residence hall bears the Minor name – an honor awarded the couple in 2013 to acknowledge their generous and continued financial support.

“I’ve enjoyed my relationship with Ole Miss for many, many years,” Minor said at the time. “Many of the courses I took at Ole Miss contributed to my success in the business world, particularly the accounting field.

“I’m glad to share some of my success. Hopefully, some needy students will benefit from our gifts.”

Minor graduated from Ole Miss in 1937 with a degree in accounting. He was recruited by General Mills Inc. to join the company’s internal audit staff in Minneapolis, where he worked until beginning his service in the U.S. Navy in 1942.

He was stationed with Douglas Aircraft Co. in Los Angeles as a cost inspector and passed the CPA exam during his enlistment.

Minor was discharged as a lieutenant commander in 1946 and opened his own accounting firm in Memphis. During the next 20 years, his firm, Minor and Moore, grew to be the city’s largest accounting firm. In 1969 he merged his firm with the international accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst and became partner in charge of the Memphis office until his retirement in 1978.

He was inducted into the Patterson School of Accountancy’s Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Ole Miss Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

He served as a mentor to young professionals such as Hardy all his life.

“I’m glad now to see his name around campus on the building and on the scholarships that have been given out every year and soon to be associated with the chair of accountancy,” Hardy said. “I’m very pleased that he was able to do all that and pleased that he did it.”

Minor’s nephew Jim Moore, of Memphis, said his uncle’s decision to give back to the university likely stemmed from his upbringing.

“He came up during the Depression, so he was able to go to college when it wasn’t easy, and he knew how his own education helped him in his life and career,” Moore said. “He always had a strong desire to help people who wanted to get an education and improve themselves.

“He was very supportive of those who really wanted to work to get ahead. Also, he loved the accounting profession and was very dedicated to that.”

Moore said Minor enjoyed watching Rebel football, playing golf and entertaining friends while hunting quail and other game birds at his family’s Circle M. Ranch near Macon, his hometown, and later at his farm, “the Old Rainey Place” near Blue Mountain. Additionally, he was a member of Menasha Hunting and Fishing Club in Arkansas for more than 50 years and the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club.

“Private giving from extraordinary alumni and supporters like Lucian Minor is so vital to ensuring the margin of excellence for which our university has become renowned,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We are very appreciative of Mr. Minor’s generous gift, which will have a tremendous impact upon our highly-ranked Patterson School of Accountancy.

“It will help maintain accountancy’s stellar academic profile and accelerate its path of excellence, as well as extend Mr. Minor’s legacy.”

For information on including the university in long-term estate and financial plans, alumni and friends can visit http://www.umfoundation.planmylegacy.org or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu.

Morris Stocks Named First Holder of Jones Chair

School of Accountancy selects former dean, provost for faculty position honoring alumnus

Morris Stocks, former UM provost and accountancy dean, has been named the inaugural holder of the Don Jones Chair of Accountancy. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy has named Morris H. Stocks as the inaugural holder of the Don Jones Chair of Accountancy.

Stocks, who returned to the school’s faculty in January 2017, had served in high-level administrative roles at the university for the past 15 years. As provost, executive vice chancellor and interim chancellor, Stocks provided vision and leadership related to many academic honors and advancements at the university.

“I am extremely humbled to be named the first recipient of the Don Jones Chair of Accountancy and especially heartened by the designation because I knew Don personally and considered him a great friend and colleague,” Stocks said. “This chair is a tribute to his outstanding career and significant contributions to the profession of accounting. I’m greatly honored to hold a position that represents his legacy.”

Under Stocks’ leadership as UM’s chief academic officer, overall student enrollment grew by more than 40 percent and minority student enrollment soared by more than 60 percent. Student success measures also improved, with freshman retention and six-year graduation rates each increasing by roughly 7 percent.

Besides his many accomplishments as a higher education administrator, Stocks is – first and foremost – a talented teacher, having won the coveted Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award in 1998 as a faculty member of the Patterson School of Accountancy.

“Morris Stocks has enjoyed an exceptional career at Ole Miss and we are fortunate to have him on our faculty,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “Morris is an outstanding teacher and mentor and he has provided great leadership for the university and Patterson School.

“His significant academic accomplishments and achievements during his tenure at Ole Miss stand as an example to which we should all aspire.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Brockman Foundation and for honoring Don in a way that will help Ole Miss faculty and students. Don enjoyed a wonderful career and was one of our greatest supporters. We are honored to have him as an alumnus and to have the Don Jones name forever associated with the Patterson School.”

Before assuming responsibilities as provost, Stocks served UM as senior vice chancellor for planning and operations and as dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy. Under his leadership, the school was ranked for the first time as one of the country’s top 25 accounting programs by the journal Public Accounting Report, a status it has retained since.

The school’s undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are No. 8 in this year’s rankings.

Stocks received an undergraduate degree in accounting from Trevecca Nazarene University, a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina. He is a certified public accountant in Mississippi. He and his wife, Cindy, have four adult children.

In 2016, the Brockman Foundation, a charitable trust for which the late Don Jones served as financial adviser for over 20 years, established the chair in his name with a $2 million gift to UM. The endowment supports salary supplements, research and creative activity in an effort to attract and retain outstanding faculty.

“Through Don’s work, finding investment opportunities and following through with them, the Brockman Foundation was able to build to the extent to where it can now make some substantial gifts,” said Evatt Tamine, the foundation’s director. “We are able to do the work we do, to a large extent, because of the work Don did over the years. So it seemed appropriate to do something that honored him.”

The chair was announced less than two months before Jones died suddenly at his Oxford home.

Melissa Jones, a 1968 graduate of the School of Business Administration, said her husband told her that he hoped the gift would keep the Patterson School at the forefront of nationally renowned accountancy schools and give students the opportunity to excel.

“This was a very humbling experience and both of us were very grateful for the recognition,” she said. “Don felt strongly about the School of Accountancy and would tell anyone who would listen how important it was to him.

“Now, to have Morris named as chair would mean so much to Don, who greatly admired Morris and his work on behalf of Ole Miss and especially on behalf of the School of Accountancy.”

At Ole Miss, Jones was active in many aspects of campus life. After graduating cum laude in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and in 1967 with a master’s degree in accountancy, Jones joined Arthur Andersen & Co. in Houston, Texas, as an auditor. He also served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army.

Jones joined Brown & Root Inc. in Houston from 1976 to 1981, then moved to Universal Computer Systems Inc. in Houston, where he was the chief financial officer until 1995. He then became chief executive officer of Pilot Management Ltd. in Bermuda, serving there until 2008.

The Donald D. Jones Chair of Accountancy Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

For more information on ways to support the Patterson School of Accountancy, contact Brooke Barnes, director of development, at brooke@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1993.

UM Accountancy Programs Maintain Top 10 Standing

Undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs continue string of elite rankings

Conner Hall is home to the competitively ranked Patterson School of Accountancy at UM. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

OXFORD, Miss. – All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2017 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the journal Public Accounting Report.

The undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are No. 8. The master’s program leads the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the SEC. One or more Ole Miss programs have led the SEC in each of the past seven years.

The Patterson School has become a mainstay on the national scene, with its programs ranked in the top 10 nationally for seven consecutive years, and among the top 20 in the nation for 10 straight years. The PAR has been ranking accounting programs for 36 years.

“These rankings are very meaningful for us,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “They enhance our visibility nationally and validate that we are experiencing success in pursuing our vision, which is to be one of the leading accounting programs in the nation.”

The rankings are based on a survey of accounting professors in the United States. Other undergraduate SEC programs ranked in the top 25 are Alabama, at No. 7; Texas A&M, 9; Florida, 10; Georgia, 11; and Missouri, 13.

Among the highly ranked master’s programs are Alabama, at No. 9; Texas A&M, 10; Florida, 11; Georgia, 13; and Missouri, 15. The doctoral rankings include Alabama at No. 7; Texas A&M, 9; Georgia, 13; Florida, 16; and Missouri, 20.

Ranking by region, UM’s master’s program placed No. 1 for the second consecutive year.

“We are proud of the academic programs and the research conducted by our Patterson School of Accountancy faculty and staff,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s provost. “They are dedicated to the success of our students and their ability to be successful in the field of accountancy. Additionally, the research of our faculty is helping to improve the field.

“The true beneficiaries of this are the students, and the accountancy firms who employ them.”

More than 1,000 schools in the United States offer accounting programs, and around 500 of those, including UM, are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as being among the best accountancy and business programs in the world, said Dale Flesher, associate dean and holder of the Burns Chair of Accountancy. PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set UM apart.

“Our rankings success provides enhanced opportunities for our graduates and also helps us in recruiting students and faculty to the University of Mississippi,” Wilder said. “While we are enjoying many successes in the Patterson School, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and expand our school.

“Toward this end, we are currently planning two new graduate degrees in data and analytics, with a goal of offering these new masters degrees beginning fall 2018.”

UM also has hosted a number of faculty from other schools in recent years, whether to present their research to Ole Miss faculty and doctoral students or to visit the National Library of the Accounting Profession, housed at the J.D. Williams Library, Wilder said.

“For example, these faculty come from places like the universities of Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio State, Duke and Penn State,” he said. “Invariably, they all leave impressed with the quality of our faculty, students and program. They are also impressed with the collegiality of our faculty and the beauty of our campus.”

Wilder credits the school’s faculty, students and alumni for having a positive impact on its reputation.

“We have an outstanding faculty of top teachers and researchers from a top-tier group of highly skilled staff members,” he said. “Our faculty and staff are very much focused on serving and mentoring students. In short, our faculty all work together toward our common goal of having one of the top accounting programs in the nation.

“The Patterson School is also fortunate to have outstanding students who go on to have phenomenal careers. The academic profile of our accountancy student body gets stronger every year, a fact that is certainly being recognized in the marketplace.”

Master’s students Rachel May, of Collinsville, and Allison Assel, of Houston, Texas, both said the program’s rankings, curriculum and instruction were major factors in their decision to apply for admission to the program.

“I had another major for about a year before I chose accountancy,” May said. “The school’s record of successful graduates who find employment most definitely influenced my decision. I’ve had many opportunities since then.”

“I actually began as a marketing major,” said Assel, who also earned her bachelor’s degree in accountancy from UM. “After about a year-and-a-half into that program, I discovered how great the Patterson School of Accountancy was. Two accountancy faculty members I had classes with encouraged me to switch majors. I’m so glad that I did.”

Wilder also noted the importance of private support in the school’s successful equation.

“The successes we are enjoying are directly attributable to the loyalty and generosity of our alumni and friends,” he said. “Their support helps us to offer scholarships to attract outstanding students, to reward our faculty and to strengthen our program.

“We are grateful for their loyalty and willingness to give back to the school. It is absolutely a difference-maker for us and allows our successes to be built upon and perpetuated.”

For more information about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy

Accounting Librarian Wins International Lifetime Achievement Award

Royce Kurtz honored for his work to make materials available for researchers worldwide

The UM Patterson School of Accountancy. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Royce Kurtz, who has shaped the University of Mississippi‘s accounting library for the last 16 years, has been honored with an international award for his efforts. 

Kurtz, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants research and instruction librarian and associate professor, has won the Academy of Accounting Historians’ Hourglass Award for lifetime achievement. The first nonaccountant to win the honor in its more-than-40-year history, Kurtz works with UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy, the AICPA, the Academy of Accounting Historians and accountants around the country to make this collection the best in the world.

“Accounting tells the story of how wealth in America is created and dispersed, and this wealth is the wellspring of all other creative arts,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy making available to both the community of scholars and practitioners the books, pamphlets, journals and manuscripts that tell the story of accounting profession, and I hope to continue this endeavor for years to come.”

The Hourglass Award is presented annually to “an individual who has made a demonstrable and significant contribution to knowledge through research and publication in accounting history,” according to the Academy of Accounting Historians. Kurtz will receive the award this month in San Diego. 

He has digitized more than 412,000 pages of historical accounting content and made these available on the library’s website for free use by anyone, anywhere in the world.

“Through the library’s digital initiatives, we are making this collection available to scholars and practitioners around the world,” Kurtz said. “I also wish to thank my colleagues in the library who have worked to process and make available this wealth of knowledge.”

The library’s website includes everything published by the AICPA, except material within the past 10 years, which is embargoed, everything ever published by Deloitte and its predecessor firms between 1895 and 2000, publications of the Academy of Accounting Historians, and other accounting-related publications that are out of copyright from 1923 and earlier.

Kurtz recently was praised by SEC Historical Society researcher and curator, George Fritz, for digitizing the materials of the Public Oversight Board. Kurtz, at the instigation of Fritz, was able to acquire the archived website of the defunct board, an independent body that oversaw the self-regulatory function of auditors of companies.

He not only copied that defunct website, but he improved upon it by adding many new items. 

Dale Flesher, a professor and associate dean of the Ole Miss accountancy school, was among those to nominate Kurtz. Flesher, who won the Hourglass Award in 2014, said Kurtz provides “extraordinary” service to students and faculty and brings world-class knowledge to his job. 

“Following the procurement of the AICPA collection, Dr. Kurtz’ clientele expanded to include thousands of accounting researchers throughout the world,” Flesher said. “He routinely fields anywhere from 500 to 900 phone calls and emails per month from accountants and accounting researchers throughout the world; many of those seeking help are interested in accounting history.

“Dr. Kurtz knows more about accounting history publications than any person alive.”

UM Accountancy School Joins Expanded KPMG Master of Accounting Program

Initiative provides full tuition and job offers for students

The KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program will offer students in the UM Patterson School of Accountancy access to full scholarships, specialized training and job offers upon graduation. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

NEW YORK and OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy is joining the KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program, a one-of-a-kind initiative that audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP developed to prepare accounting students for the digital marketplace.

The expansion of the program increases the number of participating schools from two to nine, and increases the number of students from 51 to 135 who will receive full tuition, other support, and KPMG job offers upon graduation. The expansion also includes a tax component at one of the new schools in the program.

The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy and KPMG have enjoyed a tremendous partnership for many years,” said Mark Wilder, dean and KPMG Chair of Accountancy at UM. “We are proud to be offering master’s degrees in taxation and data analytics, as well as in accounting and data analytics. It is a high privilege to work with KPMG to provide innovative graduate programs to help develop future professionals for the data age.”

“KPMG’s expanded investment in the data and analytics program demonstrates the firm’s commitment to the future of the audit and tax professions,” said Frank Casal, KPMG’s U.S. Vice Chair – Audit. “We’re pleased to include prestigious institutions like the University of Mississippi, who share this focus and are equally passionate about their students building advanced skills in accounting, tax and data analytics that they can bring into the marketplace.”

Ole Miss also will integrate the program into its Master of Taxation degree.

“KPMG’s experience demonstrates that harnessing and analyzing the data in a company’s tax filings can create value across an entire organization,” said Jeff LeSage, KPMG’s U.S. Vice Chair – Tax. “Empowering the next generation of tax leaders to unlock those insights aligns with KPMG’s commitment to innovation and helps assure that we’ll remain at the forefront of sharing those innovations with our clients.”

In August 2016, KPMG disrupted the education and recruiting experience for the audit profession by collaborating with the Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business and the Villanova School of Business to launch the KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program. Fifty-one students were accepted to the program and will begin their studies at those two schools in the fall of 2017.

KPMG’s program provides each school with access to proprietary KPMG technologies and integrates easily into their academic programs. KPMG will increase the program’s scholarships to 135 students from across the U.S. Those students will work as interns on KPMG audit or tax teams and will join KPMG’s audit or tax practices through an advanced entry program upon graduation.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently awarded the KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program its “2017 Recruiting Excellence Award,” which recognizes excellence in recruiting best practices, including attracting talent, selection process, training and development of new hires, and retention.

Those interested in learning more about the program, including how to apply, should visit http://www.kpmgmasters.com. A related video may be accessed at https://youtu.be/aN4JTWyrP-A.

Other schools joining the program include:

  • Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business
  • Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business
  • The University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business
  • The University of Missouri’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business
  • The University of Southern California, Leventhal School of Accounting
  • Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business

Globally, KPMG International’s Ireland member firm launched a similar program in March with the National University Ireland Galway, and its South Africa member firm is piloting a program at the University of Witwatersrand. Several other KPMG member firms are also pursuing additional similar relationships in their respective countries.


KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (www.kpmg.com/us), is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s independent member firms have 189,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 152 countries.

About the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is the state’s flagship university and has a long history of producing leaders. The Patterson School of Accountancy is recognized as one of the top accounting programs nationally and produces graduates who hold leadership positions in business organizations nationally and internationally. One of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing universities, Ole Miss is known for its welcoming environment and is regularly ranked as one of America’s most beautiful and safest campuses. For more information, visit http://accountancy.olemiss.edu.

UM Accountancy Professor Wins SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Dale Flesher is active in research, mentoring next generation of accountants

Dale L. Flesher is a respected researcher and teacher in the field of accountancy. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Dale L. Flesher, the Roland and Sheryl Burns Chair and Professor in the Patterson School of Accountancy, is the 2017 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award honoree for the University of Mississippi.

“What an honor it was to be selected from among top-notch faculty at an R1 institution,” Flesher said. “Receiving this award has provided me with more enthusiasm and energy to continue pursuing my research interests.”

To be eligible for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, an individual must have achieved the rank of full professor at an SEC institution, have a record of extraordinary teaching and have a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally and/or internationally.

“Most of my previous honors have been awarded by organizations in the field of accounting, and it is humbling to be recognized by colleagues in your discipline,” Flesher said. “However, this award is most special because I will have the opportunity to represent all of the faculty across campus at the University of Mississippi, where I have devoted the last 40 years of my career.”

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati and Ball State University, Flesher joined the faculty in 1977. When Flesher was presented the 2005 Thomas J. Burns Biographical Research Award at the Academy of Accountant Historians Hall of Fame Conference, it was noted that “Dr. Flesher has done more biographical research and publishing than anyone in the field of accounting.”

Flesher has authored more than 400 articles in more than 100 professional journals. He has also written 50 books in 91 editions.

His numerous history books include the 50th anniversary history of the Institute of Internal Auditors and the 75th anniversary history of the American Accounting Association, as well as books on the history of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. He has had five tax books published by Commerce Clearing House, and he published a book on the history of the Ole Miss accountancy program.

Flesher has enjoyed an extraordinary 40-year career with the Patterson School of Accountancy and receiving the SEC Academic Achievement Award is a well-deserved honor, Dean Mark Wilder said.

“Dr. Flesher has served on the dissertation committees of 48 of our Patterson School Ph.D. graduates, chairing half of these dissertations,” he said. “He has made a tremendous impact on the profession through his mentorship of these doctoral graduates, many of whom are in leadership positions in academic institutions across the nation and world.

“Dr. Flesher has played a key leadership role in the successes of the Patterson School over the years and in our ability to have one of the top accountancy programs in the nation. We are honored that he has been selected for this prestigious award.”

Flesher is a member of many professional organizations, including the American Institute of CPAs, Mississippi Society of CPAs, American Taxation Association, Institute of Internal Auditors, Association of Government Accountants, Institute of Management Accountants, American Accounting Association and the Academy of Accounting Historians, which he served as international president in 1988. He served as editor of The Accounting Historians Journal from 1989 through 1994. He previously edited the Accounting Historians Notebook for 10 years.

He has received outstanding educator or outstanding researcher awards from the American Institute of CPAs, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Academy of Accounting Historians, the Mississippi Society of CPAs and other organizations.

Flesher’s stellar reputation helped bring the American Institute of CPA’s library to the Oxford campus, creating one of the world’s best and largest accounting research resources. He was also instrumental in establishing the university’s Tax History Research Center, Electronic Data Processing Auditing Archival Center and the McMickle Rare Book Library.

The 2011 recipient of UM’s Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, Flesher said he is dedicated to training the next generation of accountancy professors by mentoring graduate students in the field. The 2011 recipient of the AICPA National Outstanding Educator Award, Flesher is among only five accounting faculty from SEC institutions to receive this award throughout its 32-year history. He is associate dean of the UM School of Accountancy and coordinator of all its graduate programs.

“For 40 years now, Dr. Flesher has helped define excellence at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “This award is another recognition of his role as an outstanding academic leader, an empowering mentor, a committed teacher and one of the most prolific contributors in his field.

“Dr. Flesher’s selection for this award contributes to the national standing of the School of Accountancy and reflects the university’s commitment to learning, discovery and engagement.”

Interim Provost Noel Wilkin agreed.

“It is a great honor for Dr. Dale Flesher to be named our recipient of the SEC Faculty Achievement Award,” he said. “This recognition is a testament to his outstanding contributions to the academy.”

Selected by a committee of SEC provosts, the SEC Faculty Achievement Awards and the SEC Professor of the Year Award are part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference.

SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners get a $5,000 honorarium from the conference and become his or her university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award. The Professor of the Year, to be named in April, receives an additional $15,000 and will be recognized at the SEC Awards dinner.

Flesher listed three possible uses for his honorarium, two of which involve donating the funds to the university.

“My wife and I have set up an endowment with the University Foundation that supports scholarships for worthy accountancy students, so some of the money may go into that endowment,” he said. Flesher’s wife, Tonya, is also an accountancy professor and a former dean of the School of Accountancy.

“Another option is to donate some of the funds to the university’s Friends of the Library program, of which my wife and I are both life members. I have been a longtime supporter of the J. D. Williams Library, perhaps even more so since it became the ‘National Library of the Accountancy Profession.’ Ole Miss has the largest accountancy library in the world, and I want to be sure it stays that way.”

Flesher said he also has considered holding out a portion of the funds to travel to work with coauthors and to visit sites with primary data sources to help enhance his research.

UM Moves Up in Measures of Academic and Research Performance

University included in several rankings of the nation's and world's best institutions

The University of Mississippi is ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Efforts by faculty, staff and students to excel in their pursuit of knowledge have given the University of Mississippi, the state’s flagship university, new momentum in its mission to lead the way in learning, discovery and engagement for the state and nation.

UM has been ranked among the nation’s best public institutions in several third-party evaluations of academic and research performance, and the university has climbed in recent measures of those areas.

In 2016, the university was included for the first time among the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions, including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the highest research category, which includes the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The university also achieved its highest-ever standing in the 2017 U. S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, where UM tied for No. 64 in the Top Public Universities category, up seven places from the previous year’s rankings. The rankings reflect 15 indicators of academic excellence, such as graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources and alumni giving rates.

Chemical engineering students conduct an experiment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These achievements and rankings reinforce our flagship status and are a testament to the value of our degrees, the impact of our research and the competitiveness of our students, staff and faculty,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “While they provide important benchmarks for our university, we remain committed to achieving even higher levels of excellence.

“We will focus upon growing the reach and impact of Ole Miss to continue making a positive difference for Mississippi, our nation and the world.”

The university ranked in the top 20 percent of U.S. institutions for total research and development expenditures in a report issued by the National Science Foundation based upon 2015 expenditures. For the 10th consecutive year, the university was ranked in the top 20 percent in this report.

The university also performed well in the inaugural ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education publications. This measure ranked UM 74th among all the nation’s public universities.

This ranking constitutes a comparative assessment of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, measuring factors such as university resources, student engagement, outcomes and environment. The latter includes a gauge of the university’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.

“Many of our academic offerings continue to gain exposure and recognition,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “I fully expect this trend to continue because of the quality and commitment of our faculty and staff.”

Success in international education and research partnerships contributed to the university’s standing on U.S. News’ 2017 list of Best Global Universities. Among the top 1,000 research universities in 65 countries, UM ranked in the top third on this year’s list.

Ole Miss students attending the PULSE Sophomore Leadership get to interact with Corporate Execs from FedEx, Hershey’s, Chico and others. PULSE is a two-day sophomore leadership workshop that brings together sophomore students from a variety of roles on campus to learn about themselves and their leadership potential. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The Best Global Universities list ranks each institution’s international and regional research reputation, including a statistical analysis of peer-reviewed publications, citations and international collaborations. The university ranked in the top 10 percent in international collaborations, and the university’s research areas of physics and pharmacology/toxicology were ranked in the top 20 percent.

“The reputation of the university in national and international research circles has been steadily growing over the past few decades,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We have seen this trend through an increasing number of national leadership positions in societies and consortia, an increase in the number of grant awards, as well as in statistical reports such as U.S. News and World Report.

“It is an exciting time for the research community at the university, and I look forward to increasingly higher impact of UM research.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked two of the university’s graduate academic programs in the top 25 nationally among public universities: the online MBA program (No. 19) and pharmacy (No. 23). Here are some of the other U.S. News rankings of UM graduate programs among public universities:

  • School of Education online program (tied No. 35)
  • History (tied No. 48)
  • Master of Business Administration (tied No. 51)
  • English (tied No. 56)
  • Clinical psychology (tied No. 67)
  • Civil engineering (tied No. 70)
  • Education (tied No. 72)
  • Social work (tied No. 77)
  • Physics (tied No. 84)
  • Electrical engineering (tied No. 85)
  • Mathematics (tied No. 91)

In national rankings by other sources, the university achieved several additional accolades among all public and private universities:

  • Patterson School of Accountancy (all three degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationally by the journal Public Accounting Report)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy master’s and doctoral programs (No. 1 in SEC)
  • Patterson School of Accountancy undergraduate program (No. 2 in SEC)
  • Creative writing (No. 6 among “Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers” by CollegeMagazine.com)
  • Online health informatics undergraduate program (No. 3 by the Health Informatics Degree Center)
  • Business law program in the School of Law (one of only four schools to earn a perfect score of A+ by preLaw Magazine, ranking it as one of the country’s top programs)

The university’s efforts to achieve excellence in all its endeavors also has helped recruit talented students to learn and contribute on all its campuses. The Chronicle of Higher Education named the university as the nation’s eighth-fastest growing among public doctoral institutions in its Almanac of Higher Education, moving up from 13th in 2014.

The ranking is based upon enrollment growth from fall 2006, when the university enrolled 14,497 students, to fall 2016, with 24,250 students registered.

The university’s incoming freshmen continue to be better-prepared for the rigor of college, posting an average ACT score of 25.2 in fall 2016, surpassing the school record of 24.7 set in 2015. The high school GPA of incoming freshmen also increased, growing from 3.54 to 3.57, another university record.

“Ole Miss is committed to student success,” Vitter said. “The demand for a University of Mississippi degree is unprecedented, and the success of our programs and initiatives aimed at helping students stay in school and graduate is clear in our increasing retention and graduation rates.

“Each and every day, our faculty and staff demonstrate strong commitment to transforming lives through higher education.”