In the mid-1930s when money was tight and few part-time jobs were available, Lucian Minor struggled financially as a University of Mississippi student. The Ole Miss cafeteria had to rearrange its food line, in fact, because the creative young student would choose a five-cent bowl of soup and load it up with vegetables before he reached the cashier.
Minor's $12-a-month meal ticket lasted longer with the addition of the hearty vegetables. Cafeteria workers finally caught on and moved the soup by the cashier. Today that frugal student is one of the major benefactors of UM's Patterson School of Accountancy and has committed a new gift.
Minor and his wife, Mary, have recently provided $5 million in gift annuities to the Patterson School, further defining their dedication to the school and university. Minor's support over three decades has included a trust to establish the Lucian S. Minor Endowment for the accountancy school in 1996 and a trust of $1 million in 2007 as well as generous contributions to other initiatives across the Oxford campus.
"I've enjoyed my relationship with Ole Miss for many, many years," said Minor, now retired from a stellar career in accounting and investments. "Many of the courses I took at Ole Miss contributed to my success in the business world, particularly the accounting field. I'm glad to share some of my success. Hopefully some needy students will benefit from our gifts."
Minor's family was able to provide only $600 a year for his freshman and sophomore years on the Oxford campus. He ultimately used a personal loan to finance his last two years at Ole Miss, and his dedication to his alma mater has been evident.
"Lucian's loyalty to Ole Miss has not been equaled by anything else in his life," Mary Minor said. "Lucian and I wanted to set up this new fund during our lifetimes to ensure it would benefit Ole Miss."
Mark Wilder, dean of the School of Accountancy, called the Minors "cornerstones" of the school, with their gifts impacting generations of accountancy students. When the Minors' trust and annuity are eventually brought into their endowment, the school plans to expand the Minor scholarship program to also include a named faculty position in their honor.
"Mary and Lucian Minor have been some of our most faithful supporters for many years and we are humbled by their generosity," Wilder said. "We appreciate so much the vision that the Minors have for our accountancy school and for their great interest and concern for our students. Their support will help to further strengthen the Patterson School and enable us to continue building on our strong teaching and mentoring tradition, a trademark of our program and a vital reason for the successes we enjoy. Generation upon generation of future accountancy students will benefit from their generosity."
The Public Accounting Report has ranked the Patterson School's undergraduate program No. 10 in the nation-the only Southeastern Conference school placed in the top 10. (Texas A&M, a new member of the SEC, is in the top 10 and would be considered in the specific SEC rankings next year.) The master's and doctoral programs are ranked No. 11 and 12 respectively in their categories. This is the seventh consecutive year the school has been ranked among the nation's top 30 and the fourth consecutive year it has been included among the top 20.
UM Chancellor Dan Jones praised the Minors for their support. "We are profoundly grateful to Mary and Lucian Minor for entrusting us with this gift annuity as well as their other generous contributions. When I think of the School of Accountancy's rise in national prominence, I see the Minors and other alumni and friends who have made such tremendous investments of their time and resources to see this academic program excel and serve our students and university so well. The school's success is a testament to strong alumni and friend involvement."
Indeed, alumni strengthen the school not only through their financial resources but also through helping younger alumni find success. Larry Hardy, an alumnus who credits Minor, his longtime friend, for giving him his first job, spoke of Minor's mentoring of graduates.
"Over the past 15 years, Lucian's monetary contributions to the School of Accountancy have provided resources for scholarships for many deserving students as well as funds for the dean to use in faculty recruitment and retention. His contributions to the endowment will allow these programs to continue into the future for many years to come.
"Before Lucian's retirement from Ernst & Young in 1978, his most significant impact on the lives of accounting graduates came from his offering them employment," continued Hardy, who is also a major supporter of the Patterson School. "I can't tell you how many Ole Miss graduates Lucian hired over the years, but the number is substantial. Many of us owe our entire careers to Lucian; he taught us valuable lessons, in both our personal and professional lives.
"Future generations of accountancy students should follow Lucian's philosophy of client service. If you take care of the clients and put their interests first, positive financial results will follow. We should also follow his example in returning to the school a portion of the monetary rewards we have received from having excellent educational foundations obtained at Ole Miss," Hardy said.
The Minors worked with Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation, to structure a gift that would accomplish their goals of benefitting Ole Miss and meet their personal financial goals. The gift annuity is held permanently and invested by the foundation while providing income to the couple.
"We were able to help ease the Minors' concerns over the volatility of the market," said Weakley. "They wanted both peace of mind concerning their resources as well as a way to continue their support of Ole Miss. The foundation takes a long-term approach to investments and is well positioned to withstand the current market volatility. The Minors already have had positive experiences with the foundation, and they know we will continually make decisions in their best interests. We appreciate their continued trust."
A native of Macon, Miss, Minor was recruited by General Mills Inc. in Minneapolis upon his Ole Miss graduation. He joined the company's internal audit staff, where he was employed until his service in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was placed with Douglas Aircraft Co. in Los Angeles as a cost inspector and passed the CPA exam during his enlistment.
Minor, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, was discharged in 1946 and soon resigned from General Mills to open his own accounting firm in Memphis. By 1967, his operation had grown to some 40 employees, large enough to interest the then Big Eight firms. He merged with Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young) and became partner in charge of the Memphis office, a position he held until he retired in 1978.
Minor was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Association's Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Patterson School of Accountancy's Hall of Fame in 1997.