UM scholarship benefactors Larry (left) and Susan Bryan (2nd from right) enjoy a moment during Easter weekend with sons Austin (right) and Spencer.

OXFORD, Miss. – When Larry Bryan sees his younger son graduate from the University of Mississippi this weekend, he relinquishes his parental responsibility for educating his children. However, the UM alumnus says he is committed to helping other young men and women realize their dreams.

"It’s a great thing to take advantage of opportunities and to benefit from all the people who came before you, but it would not be right to fail to carry on that legacy when your time comes," Bryan said. "We need to ensure a standard of excellence for future generations to attend Ole Miss."

Continuing a long record of giving back to the university in both time and financial support, Bryan, president and CEO of Diversified Trust Co. in Memphis, and his wife, Susan, recently pledged $25,000 to establish an Ole Miss First Scholarship.

"Larry Bryan is among a new generation of Ole Miss alumni who are now in a position to carry on the renewed momentum at this university and who are willing to step forward," said Chancellor Robert Khayat. "We are grateful to Larry and Susan for their commitment to helping ensure that educational opportunities continue into the next decades, and to Larry for being an active volunteer leader in the university’s recruitment and development efforts."

Thanks in part to his UM experience, Bryan said he was able to finance top-notch education opportunities for his two sons. At the same time, as a community volunteer, he came face to face with children who, he said, were "bright and showed great promise but lacked the same privileges."

"These are kids whose families can’t afford to send them to the best schools, and some may not even be in a stable home environment, and they’re still able to make a fairly high score on the ACT," Bryan said.

The Bryans were moved to make a commitment and the Ole Miss First giving program, unique in that donors participate in a mentor program with recipients, seemed to be an appropriate choice.

"With Ole Miss First, you’re not just giving money; you’re given the opportunity to get to know a young person and try to help positively influence his or her life," Bryan said. "I think that’s special. I look forward to doing more than providing financial assistance."

Bryan said his Ole Miss experience not only provided him with a degree but also left him with a large network of friends.

"I felt prepared with my Ole Miss degree and my background in accountancy," he said. "But equally important was what I learned outside the classroom in the way of social skills, interacting with people and establishing friendships, not only with fellow students but also with faculty. That’s an incredibly important value that I took away from here."

A native of Winona, Bryan graduated from UM in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He spent 13 years as treasurer and CFO of LeBonheur Health System and its related entities. In 1994, he started Diversified Trust, a Memphis-based private trust company with offices in Atlanta and Nashville.

Active in community service, Bryan is on the boards of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Chickasaw Council Boy Scouts of America, LeBonheur Foundation, Southern College of Optometry, Medical Ministries Clinic of Oxford and the Memphis Rotary Foundation. He is an elder and trustee at Idlewild Presbyterian Church.

Bryan is married to the former Susan Marsh. Their children are Austin, a graduate of Washington and Lee University who is working in Washington, D.C., and Spencer, who is slated to be awarded a bachelor’s degree in international business at Ole Miss commencement Saturday (May 13), with plans to work in New York.

For more information about the Ole Miss First program and other giving plans, visit http://www.umf.olemiss.edu/home.

 

by Elaine F. Pugh