UM’s Undergraduate Accountancy Program Moves into Nation’s Top 10 in Latest Rankings

Dean Mark Wilder (left) visits with accountancy students after a lecture. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

The undergraduate accountancy program at the University of Mississippi is ranked No. 10 in the nation by the Public Accounting Report in its latest edition.

The independent newsletter of the accounting profession, in its Dec. 16, 2011, issue, also ranks the Patterson School of Accountancy’s master’s and doctoral programs at Nos. 11 and 12 respectively in their categories.

While the Patterson School is the only SEC school in the top 10, other SEC schools ranked in the top 30 are the universities of Georgia (12), Florida (17), Alabama (20) and Tennessee (29).

The 30-year-old PAR Annual Professors Survey bases its results on votes from professors of accounting at U.S. colleges and universities. For many years, UM’s undergraduate program has been ranked in the top 30 nationally. Last year, the graduate and undergraduate programs were slotted at 19 and 20 respectively.
Dean Mark Wilder said it is a great accomplishment for the school to once again be recognized nationally as a top accountancy program and to achieve all-time high rankings in all three program categories.

“This honor is a testament to the hard work of our faculty in delivering a rigorous educational experience. Our faculty are highly successful in their research and professional service endeavors while maintaining the commitment to excellence in teaching that has been the hallmark of our accountancy program for many years.”

Wilder also credits the students for having a positive impact on the school’s reputation.

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

This year, for the first time, the report has added a ranking of schools that eliminates votes of faculty members who placed their school’s own accountancy program as No. 1 in the country.

“In that ranking, we are either third or fourth in each of the three categories, ranking up there with Chicago and MIT, and ahead of perennial power Illinois,” said Dale Flesher, associate dean.

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, known as AACSB International, as being among “the best accountancy and business programs in the world.”

PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set the Patterson School apart, Flesher said.

“Many voters, some of whom may not know much about Ole Miss, know that the university houses the AICPA Library, the largest accountancy library in the world,” he said. “Also, a recent study showed that we are the only university of our size in the country that has every accounting class taught by a professor with CPA designation.”

A visiting lecturer program, publishing success of faculty members and hosting a couple of major conferences are other ways the Patterson School has been showcased, he said.

“In summary, there is not one thing that we are doing differently; we are basically doing the same fine job of educating students that we have always done, but more people are learning about our successes,” Flesher said.

Wilder further noted the importance of private support in the Patterson 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 accountancy education at Ole Miss, visit