The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy recently got a boost for its building fund from a familiar face with deep ties to the university.
Although Joe Weller, a 1961 Ole Miss graduate, died Dec. 15, 2022, his $250,000 gift ensures that his legacy lives on for generations at his alma mater, where he was a member of the Patterson School Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been a supporter of Ole Miss, and we’ve been talking about the gift for the last several years; I was just waiting for the right time,” Weller said in November. “We’re wanting to get the new school built.
“The accounting school has a tremendous reputation, one of the best in the country. We want to be sure we stay in that position. It didn’t feel like our facilities matched what our program did. It will be in a great location, and it’ll be the first building people see when they come across the bridge to the campus.”
Mark Wilder, the school’s dean, said that it’s because of the generosity of people like Weller that the new school can be constructed.
“We are grateful for all that Joe has done for our school over the years and appreciate his willingness to help us in such a significant way with funding for our new building,” he said. “This new facility will be wonderful for our students and will help us tremendously in recruiting top talent to the Patterson School.”
Growth in student enrollment is driving plans for the 110,000-square-foot building at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the Grove. The school is a national powerhouse ranked No. 8 in the country and No. 1 in the SEC.
Raised in Clarksdale, Weller lived in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife, Ann, whom he dated while they were both in school. He served as vice chair of Morgan Keegan and Co. Inc., a company he co-founded in 1969, before retiring in 2006.
Of the Wellers’ three children, two are UM alumni: Joseph “Thom” Weller and Laurie Weller. The former also pursued a career in accounting after graduation.
In fact, father and son had the same professor while in school years apart: the renowned H.E. “Gene” Peery. Both referred to him as “their favorite teacher of all time.”
“He found me my first job after graduation,” the elder Weller recalled. That first job was as an accountant at Minor and Moore CPA Firm, which was run by another UM alumnus, 1937 graduate Lucian Minor.
Eventually, Weller’s own firm, Morgan Keegan, would become one of the largest independent full-service wealth management and capital market firms in the country.
In 2008, Weller joined the ranks of the accounting school’s hall of fame, enshrined alongside Ole Miss accounting legends such as Peery and Minor.
Weller served as Morgan Keegan’s chief financial officer for 37 years before retiring in 2006. Throughout his long career, Weller served in various industry positions with the National Association of Security Dealers, Securities Industry Association and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and as president of Financial Executives International.
Ultimately, for Weller, the reason for giving back was simple.
“It was always the school I wanted to attend, and it’s always been part of our family,” he said.
The Ole Miss accountancy school is nationally ranked for the 10th consecutive year of top 10 rankings. Over the past three years, the school has produced eight recipients of the Elijah Watts Sells Award – the most prestigious CPA exam distinction worldwide. Over the 2020-22 time period, this ranks Ole Miss easily No. 1 in the SEC in number of Sells Award recipients and tied for fourth nationally.
By Andy Belt