Major Family Gift Helps Ensure Future for UM Programs

Frys designate $2.5M estate gift to support Ole Miss athletics, business school

A portion of Bill and Lee Anne Fry’s estate gift to the university will endow a faculty chair in the School of Business Administration. School leaders say the chair will help recruit faculty members. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Since his graduation from the University of Mississippi in 1980, Bill Fry and his wife, Lee Anne, have frequently offered financial support to his alma mater. And having established two planned gifts, they will continue to give back to Ole Miss long after their lifetimes.

The New York City and Oxford residents have agreed to bequeath a portion of their estate to the university. Estimated at $2.5 million, the gift will strengthen the School of Business Administration – naming a faculty chair in honor of their two grown children – and support Rebel sports programs via Forever Ole Miss, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation‘s planned giving vehicle.

The Frys’ estate gift is also included in Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss – the largest fundraising effort ever in Mississippi higher education with a goal of $1.5 billion.

Both Now & Ever and Forever Ole Miss provide perfect opportunities to add to their legacy to improve the lives of generations of UM students, professors and Rebel student-athletes, Bill Fry said.

“Lee Anne and I have been fortunate in our lives and want to be sure we give back in proportion to what we have received,” he said. “Ole Miss has been a major part of our families, a source of lifelong friendships and numerous memorable experiences. We are grateful for the opportunity to return our blessings and hope these gifts accelerate our Ole Miss family’s impact on the world.”

Lee Anne (left) and Bill Fry, who have homes in New York and Oxford, have bequeathed some $2.5 million to the university to fund a faculty chair in the School of Business Administration and support Ole Miss athletics programs. The planned gift is the latest of many donations the couple has made to the university. Submitted photo

A graduate of the UM public administration program, Bill Fry was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2012. He earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1990. Between undergraduate and graduate schools, he spent eight years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, last serving as a lieutenant in the nuclear propulsion program.

Fry joined American Securities, a New York-based private equity fund with more than $30 billion under management, in 2010 as one of the company’s partners. Previously, he was CEO of the Oreck Corp. and has also helmed several entities owned by various private equity firms and public companies, holding positions as president of the Dixie Group, CEO of Bell Sports and Bell Riddell, and president of Easton Bell Sports.

Lee Anne Fry is a graduate of Auburn University who worked as an analyst for the CIA in Washington, D.C., where they met. They have two grown children, Will and Katie, for whom the faculty chair is named.

“What better way to honor your children and tie them to Ole Miss than to endow a chair,” Lee Anne Fry said.

Together, the family enjoys being part of Rebel Nation.

“Athletics has been a rallying point and source of joy for our family for many years. We have enjoyed gathering with friends and bringing new ones to Ole Miss,” Bill Fry said.

“Every new visitor leaves an Ole Miss fan. As Chancellor Robert Khayat often said, athletics are the front porch of the university; and we want our Ole Miss porch to be exciting for fans, rewarding for student-athletes and competing for championships.”

Denson Hollis, CEO of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, expressed gratitude for the planned gift.

“Their gift will ensure the future of Ole Miss athletics is strengthened as it provides support for departmental leadership in the years ahead,” Hollis said.

The Frys’ love of Ole Miss athletics led them in 2021 to fund a campus monument in honor of Rebel basketball legend Coolidge Ball, who was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Association Hall of Fame the same year.

Keith Carter (left), vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics, and Ole Miss Rebel basketball trailblazer Coolidge Ball unveil a statue of Ball during a 2021 dedication outside The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss. The statue project was funded by Bill and Lee Anne Fry, who have designated part of a new $2.5 million gift to benefit Ole Miss athletics. Photo by Josh McCoy/Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

The couple has committed many gifts to the university, including a 2018 gift in support of the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, a 2019 scholarship in memory of their niece and a 2020 planned gift that established a faculty chair in the School of Business Administration.

For almost two decades, Bill Fry has served on the business school’s advisory board. The Frys are co-chairing the school’s Now & Ever campaign.

“The business school has been tremendously successful in the past decade,” Fry said. “We have a Top 10-rated online MBA program, highly rated business school and over 97% of our graduates are employed or in advanced education programs.

“Our professors are among the most published in the SEC. Our faculty and staff have exciting plans and are having a remarkable impact on students. Our graduates are changing the lives of individuals by starting businesses and making opportunities for others.” 

Ken Cyree, UM business dean, is grateful for the Frys’ engagement with the school.

“Their planned gift will ensure that we continue to recruit faculty members with a passion for quality teaching, research and service for future generations of students,” Cyree said.

Marc Littlecott, advancement director for estate and planned giving, said testamentary gifts like the Frys’ are beneficial to the university and the donors alike.

“Many are under the impression that charitable estate-giving automatically reduces what they can leave to heirs, when in fact that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case,” Littlecott said. “Leaving meaningful legacy gifts is the kind of perspective our office provides free to friends and alumni like the Frys as they consider options to take to their attorneys.”

To make an estate gift to Ole Miss athletics, visit or contact Denson Hollis at or 615-957-4372. To make a gift to the School of Business Administration, visit or, for more information, contact Angela Brown, senior director of development, at or 662-915-3181.

For more information on providing ongoing support to Ole Miss after your lifetime, click here or contact Littlecott at or 662-915-6625.