Robersons give generously to support new home for Patterson School of Accountancy
Brian Roberson, who earned University of Mississippi undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting nearly three decades ago, wants his alma mater to have the resources to make the dream of building a new home for the Patterson School of Accountancy come true.
“As soon as I heard that constructing a new building for our accountancy school was being considered, I knew I wanted to support the effort,” said Roberson, a partner with KPMG in Cincinnati.
He and his wife, Lea Ann Hughes Roberson, who graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1992, have committed $200,000 to the transformative project through the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund.
For decades, the Ole Miss school has been recognized as having one of the nation’s top accounting programs and for producing exceptional graduates.
Now, the school is preparing to reach greater heights of excellence for future generations of accountancy students with a new $70 million-plus academic home.
Based on his own experience with the school, Roberson said providing financial resources to a new building today will translate to a more prosperous tomorrow for others.
“The Patterson School of Accountancy has given so many people, including me, wonderful careers,” he said. “I think this building will do the same for generations to come. I think back fondly to all of the time I spent in Conner Hall, including my time as a grader for Dr. (James) Davis.
“With the growth of the Patterson School, students are taking classes across campus. I want accounting majors to have one building in which they take their classes and have opportunities to interact with professors, fellow students and prospective employers.”
Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Roberson enrolled at Ole Miss after his family moved to Mississippi once he graduated from high school. During a campus tour, he met a few of the university’s administrators and faculty members, including Tonya Flesher, the dean at the time.
“I was particularly impressed by what I saw and learned about the Patterson School of Accountancy, including the great opportunities it provided its graduates,” he said.
He accepted a scholarship, enrolled in the accountancy program and had an enormously successful four years in the undergraduate program and another year in graduate school.
After college, he went to work for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in Memphis, Tennessee. Roberson then joined KPMG in New York City in 2002 but left after earning a fellowship with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.
After completing his fellowship, he rejoined KPMG in 2006 and worked in its New York office for several years before moving to the firm’s Cincinnati location.
Throughout his professional career, Roberson has supported Ole Miss by providing gifts for accountancy lectureships and chairs. He, his wife and their two children also frequently return for sporting events and to visit with friends, family and other alumni.
He’s pleased with the steady progress the school has made to secure such a prominent position among accountancy schools across the nation.
Its programs have ranked in the Top 10 in the nation for 10 consecutive years and, in its 2021 national rankings, Big4AccountingFirms.org placed the Ole Miss accountancy school as No. 8 in the country and No. 1 in the SEC.
In addition, over the 2020 to 2022 time period, the school has been responsible for educating eight winners of the Elijah Watt Sells Award, the most prestigious CPA exam recognition given worldwide. This ranks Ole Miss as No. 1 in the SEC and tied for fourth nationally in the number of Sells awardees during this three-year period.
“Once the building is completed, it will play a big part in ensuring that this success continues,” Roberson said. “The Patterson School deserves a superb building in a great location.”
The planned four-story facility will be constructed on the corner of Grove Loop and University Avenue, serving as a prominent gateway to campus. With more than 100,000 square feet of space, it will feature tiered auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, conference rooms, administrative and faculty suites, and more.
Brian and Lea Ann Roberson’s ongoing support of the school’s building fund and other accountancy programs is crucial for the school to continue as one of the nation’s top-ranked institutions in accountancy education, said Mark Wilder, dean and KPMG Chair of Accountancy.
“We look forward to the Roberson name being associated with such a prominent location as the Colloquium and Learning Center in the new building,” Wilder said. “I believe this will be a popular gathering space for meetings, learning activities and events and will be heavily used by students, faculty and staff.
“Their investment will help us build the future home for the Patterson School of Accountancy, which will be an exceptional recruiting tool needed to successfully attract and retain top students, faculty and staff across the country.”
By Jonathan Scott