“Connective tissue” is one of the reasons Colleen and Chris Haley of Jacksonville, Florida, have made a major gift to the new home of the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi.
Many of Chris Haley’s family members graduated from Ole Miss, where he also earned Bachelor of Accountancy and Master of Taxation degrees. To honor the couple’s gift, the south side of the second floor of the new building will be named the Haley Family Terrace.
“It’s important to me that this comes through as a gift from me, my wife and my family,” Haley said. “The Accountancy School has been a constant in my life and Ole Miss has been a common thread that brings my family together. I am who I am professionally because of starting my education at the Ole Miss School of Accountancy,” the business professional said.
“All these things coming together is what drove us to want to make this gift. To me this new facility will be a testament to what people have built over decades working tirelessly. People have built the accountancy program to national recognition.”
The Patterson School is ranked No. 8 in the nation and No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference — marking the 10th consecutive year of top 10 rankings for the Patterson School. In 2021, the school awarded a record 588 degrees — with 253 of those being master’s degrees.
The growth in student enrollment is driving plans for the new academic home with a cost of approximately $70+ million. The Haley Family Terrace will be part of the four-story facility featuring 100,000 square feet of tiered auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, conference rooms, administrative and faculty office suites, and outdoor balconies and terraces.
Haley said, “I think this new building will solidify our foundation as the preeminent accountancy program, and it will open the doors to further prestige and success.”
Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, praised the Haleys’ support.
“Colleen and Chris Haley are exceptional people and we are fortunate that the Patterson School is an institution that is important to them,” Wilder said. “We are grateful for their very generous gift and for being role models for others to follow.”
“I appreciate so much the leadership role that Chris has with the Patterson School Alumni Board. His engagement, passion, and ideas bring great energy to me, the board, and to our School.
“Even as a student, it was easy to see that the future was very bright for Chris. He always had an ideal combination of talent and work ethic. It is wonderful to see him using his accounting education and professional experiences to achieve incredible results in the venture capital world.”
Haley, a native of Senatobia, Mississippi, chose Ole Miss for his college home for practical reasons. “Mainly, I wanted to earn a great education at an affordable price, and many of my friends were going to Ole Miss.”
After obtaining his degrees from Ole Miss, Haley earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee, where he met his wife who was also pursuing a law degree. He then attended New York University for a master’s of law.
Haley began his law practice in Nashville, Tennessee, but then moved to Jacksonville, Florida, to help a friend build a technology company. They sold the company four years later, and his career was born. Now a general partner with Fintop Capital, Haley enjoys leveraging his knowledge to help grow businesses.
“I get to work with really smart people who are solving challenges in truly innovative ways,” Haley said. “I am in awe of entrepreneurs.”
His degrees in law were easier to obtain, he said, because of the educational foundation he received at the Patterson School.
“I received an education in being a professional and in learning,” Haley said. “Dr. Jimmy Davis helped me to be a better student. He taught me how to think critically.”
Professors Davis, Wilder, Morris Stocks and Finley Graves all were significant influences in Haley’s college experience.
“What I always felt set the school apart was that everyone knew everyone. The sense of community was special. The professors were actively involved in our education and were engaged with us as students and individuals,” Haley said.
Haley has served on the Accountancy Alumni Board since 2012 and provides leadership as its chair. He is also on the Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss committee for the Patterson School. In fact, his gift is directed to the historic campaign to secure $1.5 billion to strengthen the university for future generations.
“I serve because of my passion for the Patterson School. I have always wanted to support Dean Wilder, as he strives for greatness. I have a duty to support him,” Haley said.
The Haleys have property near Senatobia and return to Mississippi and Oxford three to four times a year as a family. Colleen Haley, who earned an undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, practices law in Jacksonville. The couple has three children: Liza, 13, Malloy, 10, and Jack, 9.
For more information about supporting the new home of the Patterson School of Accountancy, contact Jason McCormick, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1757.
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development