Stephanie Jennings Teague of Chicago, Illinois, sees her commitment of $100,000 to the Patterson School of Accountancy’s new building at the University of Mississippi as a means of saying “thank you.”
“It is a way to show a small token of my appreciation to Ole Miss, the faculty and staff, and the accounting program,” said the alumna, who earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting in 2011 and 2012 respectively. “This was a great opportunity to give back to the university and the accountancy school for something that will be around for generations to come.
“I hope the long-term impact of my gift will be that it fosters the next generation of students to have a place they can grow individually, network and go after their dreams.”
The four-story academic building featuring 110,000 square feet of tiered auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, conference rooms, administrative and faculty office suites, and outdoor balconies and terraces will be constructed at a high-profile location — at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the iconic Grove. Its cost is estimated to be in excess of $75 million.
“The new building plans will take the accountancy program to the next level,” said Teague. “Having a stand-alone space, which will be one of the first buildings you see while coming onto campus by the Grove, will draw even more attention to the school and provide a community place to gather.”
The Patterson School of Accountancy offers a Bachelor of Accountancy degree, four master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in accountancy. The master’s degrees include two new ones in data analytics (Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and Master of Taxation and Data Analytics). It is the top accounting school in the SEC and has ranked among the top 10 programs nationally for more than a decade. Big4AccountingFirms.org ranked the Ole Miss program No. 8 in the nation in 2022.
Since her graduation, Teague has worked 10 years with Tyson Foods, where she has had multiple opportunities to further her career in different positions.
“I jumped at all of them,” Teague said. “This led me to relocating six times within a seven-year period living in North Carolina three times, Texas, Mississippi and currently in Chicago. My career path has taken me down many roads with different roles within various segments of the company.”
The young alumna said she was well prepared by her education at Ole Miss.
“One of the biggest impacts to my career that the Patterson School of Accountancy prepared me for is how to network and build relationships,” Teague said. “The events the school hosts that gave me professional exposure to private and public accounting companies and the camaraderie across the students, faculty and staff allowed me to hone and develop my soft skillset that is imperative to preparedness in business situations.”
Based on her experience, Teague would tell current UM students: “These acumens will be leveraged throughout your career. They can be utilized to open doors and create opportunities to pursue what you are passionate about.”
Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, expressed appreciation for Teague’s gift.
“We are grateful to Stephanie for this generous contribution to help our new building become a reality. She is excelling in her career at Tyson Foods and is moving up the corporate ladder very quickly,” the dean said. “It is exciting and inspiring when our young graduates are successful and want to give back generously to the Patterson School. We could not be more proud of Stephanie.”
Teague is the group controller over Tyson Food’s Bruss Company Business Unit within Fresh Meats with responsibilities in Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida. She manages all the financial and accounting activities for this group and a team with a continuous improvement mindset. In addition to being responsible for profit and loss statements, balance sheets, operational/sales/commercial accounting, and projections and strategy, she is helping drive improvements in processes, determine best practices and champion financial transformation through data analytics. Additionally, she serves as a business partner while providing insights for the broader cross-functional team.
At Tyson, Teague has also been part of leadership development programs and project teams focused on system integration, mergers and acquisitions, and financial transformation.
Teague, a native of Hickory, North Carolina, chose Ole Miss after a family member who attended the university encouraged her to visit.
“I fell in love with Ole Miss as soon as I visited. The feeling of home you get when you drive on campus, the atmosphere at baseball games, Saturdays in the Grove, and the fact that you run into someone you know everywhere you go are just a few of the school’s charms,” said Teague, who witnessed the Rebel baseball team win the NCAA National Championship in Omaha, Nebraska, earlier this year.
Teague traveled an unconventional path to her accounting major. Always interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics growing up, she started college in the School of Pharmacy. But when taking her first accounting class, she discovered her true passion in her sophomore year.
Her professor suggested that she join the School of Accountancy, so she met with staff to find a way to take dual classes the rest of the year and then officially switched to accounting her junior year. After graduation, she remained on the Oxford campus to earn a master’s degree in accountancy.
One of the educational opportunities she enjoyed as an undergraduate was studying abroad in London, England.
“I love to travel, and this was an experience that I was glad to have as a part of my education,” Teague said. “It was great to see different cultures and see the global reach and connections that the university has. As someone who now works for a global company, it helped me to relate and want to learn more about different people.”
J Shaw was Teague’s favorite professor, and he was selected by accountancy students as the Patterson School of Accountancy Outstanding Teacher for the academic years 2005-2006, 2009-2010, 2013-2014 and 2019-2020.
“His classes were notoriously tough. But I loved having Dr. Shaw for a professor and would actively choose him if I had a choice because I like to be challenged.”
Shaw said he remembers Teague well.
“She was a very good student in Intermediate I and II and in Tax II. We traveled together on a study-abroad trip to London in 2012,” he recalled. “I am so proud to have Stephanie as a graduate of the Patterson School of Accountancy. She has a terrific career at Tyson.
“I am also extremely proud that she is willing to help the PSOA by making this generous gift to support the new accountancy building.”
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development