The University of Mississippi

FORVIS Invests in Accountancy School

An architectural rendering of the future Patterson School of Accountancy building at the 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.

Tom Watson

“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, CEO of FORVIS. “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, the southwest regional managing partner at FORVIS, was among those leaders with Rob Pruitt of Indianapolis, Indiana; Brian West of Houston, Texas; Todd Lisle of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Buddy Dearman of Memphis, Tennessee, and Andy Williams of Jackson, Mississippi, instrumental in helping the firm make this gift.

“FORVIS is proud to contribute to the Building the Future campaign, which supports the Patterson School of Accountancy. 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.”

Kimberly McKay

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 Patterson School of Accountancy is the top accounting 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. It offers a Bachelor of Accountancy degree, four Master of Accountancy degrees and a Doctor of Accountancy. The master’s degrees include two in data analytics (Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and Master of Taxation and Data Analytics).

The Building the Future campaign has a goal of supporting the four-story academic building, featuring 110,000 square feet of tiered auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, conference rooms, administrative and faculty office suites, and outdoor balconies and terraces, which will be constructed at a high-profile location — at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the iconic Grove. Its cost is estimated to be over $75 million.

Williams, the managing partner of FORVIS’ Mississippi office, said there is support from the top down for the Patterson 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 was an

Andy Williams

opportunity for our firm to be part of the new building and to continue to be part of a strong accounting program that will benefit both Ole Miss and FORVIS alike.

“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, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, expressed appreciation for the FORVIS support.

“We are exceptionally grateful to FORVIS for supporting Ole Miss accountancy education in such a significant way and providing this generous gift for our new building,” said Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy. “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.

“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,” Wilder said.

“We’ve had a wonderful partnership over the years with both DHG and BKD – with a number of our alumni serving in leadership roles within these firms. We appreciate so much all that these two firms have done for our School and look forward to strengthening our relationship even further with FORVIS in the future.”

Williams, who has visited with Patterson School of Accountancy 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. 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,” he said.

Buddy Dearman

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 Patterson 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.

“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,” he said. “We are especially excited about the section of the building that will bear the FORVIS name as almost every accountancy student will come through that portion of the building at some point in the student’s journey. We hope that this section of the new building will be a great resource for all students.”

Dearman, who was impacted by professors that 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. 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,” Dearman said.

To learn more about supporting the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund, contact Jason McCormick, executive director of development, at jason@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1757.

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development