By Tina H. Hahn
University of Mississippi
For its $500,000 gift to the University of Mississippi, one of the nation’s top public accounting firms, Forvis LLP, will be honored with the naming of the undergraduate and master’s programs suite in the new Patterson School of Accountancy.
“The long-term success of our firm – and, for that matter, our profession – requires a strong pipeline of talented candidates who will help us achieve our mission,” said Tom Watson, the firm’s CEO. “The graduates we hire from Ole Miss are top-notch, and we are proud they call Forvis home.
“We are honored to support the Patterson School of Accountancy and look forward to its continued excellence in training the profession’s next generation of leaders.”
Kimberly McKay, Southwest regional managing partner at Forvis, was among those leaders, with Rob Pruitt, of Indianapolis; Brian West, of Houston, Texas; Todd Lisle, of Dallas-Fort Worth; Buddy Dearman, of Memphis, Tennessee, and Andy Williams, of Jackson, instrumental in helping the firm make this gift.
“As one of the Top 10 accounting and advisory firms in the country, it is important to Forvis to support the educational institutions that contribute to our long-term success,” she said.
“The Patterson School of Accountancy has always had a strong academic profile, but we also value the leadership attributes we see from students attending Ole Miss. As one of our top recruiting schools in the country, we believe that the Patterson School of Accountancy prepares students in a way that aligns with our forward vision of creating engaging opportunities, delivering innovative solutions and building unrivaled relationships.”
Forvis is the result of the June 2022 merger of professional services firms BKD and DHG and their more than 5,700 partners and team members who serve clients in all 50 states and around the globe.
The UM accountancy school is the top-rated school in the SEC and has ranked among the top 10 programs nationally for more than a decade. Big4AccountingFirms.org ranked the Ole Miss program No. 8 in the nation in 2022.
The Building the Future campaign supports construction of the four-story academic building, featuring 110,000 square feet of auditoriums, classrooms, study areas, conference rooms, and administrative and faculty office suites. The building is to be constructed at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the Grove, for an estimated $75 million.
Williams, managing partner of Forvis’ Mississippi office, said there is support from the top down for the school.
“It’s a broad investment that we all feel is very valuable,” he said. “We recognize the depth of the accounting program there. We have recruited a number of Ole Miss graduates who have been impactful in our firm and not just for the Mississippi office but also for our offices in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Memphis, Birmingham and Atlanta.”
This gift will benefit both Ole Miss and Forvis alike, Williams said.
“Being in a Top 10 accountancy program, Ole Miss graduates are well prepared,” he said. “What we appreciate as well is that most of them have already passed the CPA exam or are very close to doing so. They can immediately begin to focus on their careers and the direction in which they are going.
“They are generally very professional and organized and have a good depth of knowledge.”
Mark Wilder, UM accountancy dean, expressed appreciation for the Forvis support.
“This remarkable investment will help provide the Patterson School with, in my view, the top facility nationally for preparing accountancy graduates for success in the professional world,” Wilder said.
“We believe we will have the finest building, in the best location, on campus. The high-profile nature of our new building will help us recruit the best and brightest to the Patterson School, further strengthening our program and providing an opportunity for us to pursue our goal of becoming the top accounting school in the nation.”
Williams, who has visited with the school’s professors and students, moved to Jackson a little more than four years ago.
“One of the reasons I was interested in coming here is the strength of the university and the students who could be a part of our firm,” he said. “I thought that allowed Forvis to have an avenue of continued growth and long-term strength.
“That’s why it’s vital for us to pour back into the university and make sure we do what we can to support the programs and professors.”
Dearman, an Ole Miss alumnus and national industry leader for the Dealerships Practice at Forvis, said the firm’s hope is that the gift, combined with others, will help the school become known as the top accountancy program in the country.
“We are already considered one of the top programs – this new building will give the school the environment and resources to excel at an even higher level,” he said.
“Both BKD and DHG have had a long history of hiring graduates from the Patterson School, and as a combined new firm, Forvis, we had the desire to make a meaningful impact toward this exciting project.”
Dearman, who was influenced by professors who taught him as a student and now by the current dean and faculty, shared the influence of the accountancy professors on the school.
“I think one of the primary strengths of the accountancy program is its culture – the faculty have a unique and sincere interest in and involvement with their students both inside and outside of the classroom,” he said. “Because of this culture and the involvement of the faculty, Patterson School graduates are both well prepared and well rounded. In addition, I feel that the loyalty of our graduates to the program is indicative of our shared experiences and further serves to reinforce our special culture.”
To learn more about supporting the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund, contact Jason McCormick, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1757.