For Ed and Barbara Krei, the University of Mississippi is the place where it all came together – friendship, networking, young love and most importantly, lasting and valuable educations.
Longtime UM supporters, the couple established the Edward Krei Lectureship in Accountancy in 2009. This year, they have generously elevated their endowment to the chair level, with more than $1 million committed to sustaining and strengthening the Patterson School of Accountancy faculty.
“We received great educations here,” said Ed Krei, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee and former gold medalist on the CPA exam. “Professors Gene Peery and Jimmy Davis – they had a big impact on me. This is my way to thank them and thank the institution for allowing them to have such a focus on teaching.”
Krei attended a public high school in Jackson, Tenn., and said he was lucky it had a small Advanced Placement program that prepared him for college. He received an Ole Miss band scholarship for his talent on the trumpet, which led him to meet Barbara who played clarinet. Originally enrolled in the School of Engineering, Krei began to feel engineering wasn’t his true calling.
“I talked with my adviser, and he suggested I take Professor Peery’s class,” Krei said. “I really enjoyed it. I took more accounting courses and decided that was where I needed to be.”
Ed and Barbara Krei both graduated in 1973, later marrying in 1974. Barbara graduated from what is now the School of Applied Sciences and has enjoyed a career as a speech pathologist in public schools. The couple has a daughter, Lauren, and son, Barrett, both successful graduates of Vanderbilt University who work in healthcare. Now retired, Barbara enjoys traveling, most recently to Machu Picchu, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
Ed Krei said this endowment is meant to provide an eternal flame for what he felt in those years as a student.
“I think the Patterson School is a worthwhile investment because of the passion of the faculty,” Krei said. “Their passion is so evident, and it sounds corny, but they really excite students about their field. And now, with the speaking engagements I have, I find myself emulating what I learned from them.”
Krei is a managing director and board of directors member for the Baker Group, in Oklahoma City, an institutional fixed income firm primarily servicing community banks. For 21 years Krei has represented the Baker Group helping client organizations develop strategies and plan for the future.
“My favorite part of the job is being with people,” he said. “I enjoy hearing what is happening in our industry on the ground level, in real time. It is worthwhile to hear our clients’ perspectives about how their institutions are being impacted and try to help them find solutions.”
Krei also serves on the faculty of two graduate banking schools – Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, and the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado in Boulder, Colo.
The Patterson School receives exceptional rankings annually by Public Accounting Report, the independent newsletter of the accounting profession. UM's undergraduate degree program has been ranked in the top 20 since 2008 and in the top 10 since 2011.
"We have been fairly high in the rankings for several years and this has brought in many more students," said Dale Flesher, the current Roland and Sheryl Burns Chair of Accountancy. "As a result, we definitely need more faculty. Endowed chairs provide needed funds for current faculty and will help in the future."
“The secret is out about the strength of our program,” said Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School. “Our students have employment opportunities across the United States and abroad. During spring 2015, the Patterson School placed interns in 17 different states, from coast to coast, and in London.”
Wilder also noted that “Ole Miss Accountancy graduates like Ed Krei who have worked hard during their tenure here to get the most out of our degree programs have helped craft a national reputation for the Patterson School that is synonymous with success.”
“For decades our faculty members have made a world of difference in the lives of our students,” added Wilder. “And thanks to Ed and Barbara Krei’s generosity, they will continue to be able to do so.”
Individuals and organizations interested in learning more about supporting faculty in the Patterson School of Accountancy can contact Brooke Barnes, development officer, at email@example.com or (662) 915-1993.