The Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi is a step closer to having a new home on the Oxford campus thanks to a $100,000 gift from one of its own.
“I’ve given to Ole Miss every year since my graduation, but this is a time when I wanted to step it up even more because of the huge opportunity the Patterson School has with this project,” said Jon Turner, a 1978 UM accountancy graduate, member of the steering committee for the school’s new building and a 2021 Patterson School Hall of Fame inductee.
“Our accountancy school has become a gold standard and is perennially ranked in the top 10 nationally among higher education institutions, and No. 1 in the SEC. I believe building this extraordinary structure will push us toward No. 1 in the nation,” said Turner, who serves on the Patterson School advisory council.
“Few accounting schools have their own buildings, including the highly ranked ones, much less a building of this magnitude. So, this will really be a game changer for accountancy at Ole Miss.”
Turner of Jackson, Mississippi, retired in 2018 as partner with the local office of BKD, LLP – CPAs & Advisors. He and his wife, the former Pam Mills, have two daughters, UM alumnae Raney-Mills Turner and Mary-Crosby Roberts, and six grandchildren. Over 40 members of the extended Turner family have attended the university.
Notably, Turner is the great-grandson of O.J. Turner Sr., a member of the Mississippi Building Commission in 1930, who arranged financial support to improve the football field at Ole Miss. Turner Field was then home to the Rebels for many years. Additionally, Jon Turner’s uncle, Thomas Turner, a guard on the 1929 Ole Miss football team and who served as president of the State College Board, was instrumental in allocating funds in 1983 for the campus recreation facility. The Turner Center is still used for classes and recreation today.
Jon Turner’s father, O.J. Turner III, as well as his uncles, Tab and Jack, played football and baseball for Ole Miss under legendary coaches Johnny Vaught and Tom Swayze – Jack on the 1960 SEC Champion baseball team.
“I was born into a fourth-generation Ole Miss family and Pam into a second-generation Ole Miss family. We really had no choice,” Turner said. “We were indoctrinated, or perhaps brainwashed, from a very early age that there was only one special place that we should go to college and that was Ole Miss.”
Now, the Turners own a second home just a stone’s throw from the Patterson School’s new site.
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 the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the iconic Grove. Its cost is estimated to be over $75 million.
Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy, expressed appreciation for the Turners’ support.
“We are exceptionally grateful to Jon and Pam for their generous gift supporting our new building,” said Wilder. “Their investment will help enable the Patterson School to have the nation’s top accountancy facility and will provide an opportunity for us to pursue our goal becoming the number 1 accounting program in the country.” Wilder continued, “We are proud to have Jon in our Patterson Hall of Fame and appreciate so much all that he has done to help our School over the years.”
Turner said he’s grateful to be able to help the school that set him on a path to success.
“One day, my freshman-year accounting professor Gene Peery — who somehow knew my name and of my extended family’s multigenerational involvement with the university — found me in the hallway, grabbed my arm, looked me in the eye, stuck his finger in my chest and informed me I was going to major in accounting,” Turner recalled. “I proceeded to have Mr. Peery for six semesters. We became very close. No doubt he was instrumental in helping me get my first job with a Big 8 firm.”
Turner began his career with the international accounting firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell, now KPMG, in Jackson. Three years later, he joined a five-person local firm that later became Smith, Turner & Reeves and grew into one of the three largest CPA firms in Mississippi. After over 20 years as managing partner, he guided a merger of his firm and two smaller Jackson firms with BKD, LLP, then one of the nation’s 12 largest CPA firms, garnering him the title “father of BKD Mississippi.”
In 2022, professional services firms BKD and DHG merged to form FORVIS, and their more than 5,700 partners and team members serve clients in all 50 states and around the globe.
Turner recently completed 15 years of service on the Board of Trustees of the $85 million Community Foundation for Mississippi, including six years as chair. He serves on the Board of Governors of the Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation. He previously completed terms on the boards of Christ United Methodist Church and the YMCA of Metro Jackson. Additionally, he has served as chair of the Jackson Academy Board of Trustees.
Turner’s involvement with his alma mater is equally extensive. He is a past president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, currently serves on its executive committee and has served multiple terms on the UM Foundation board and Ole Miss Athletics committee.
Additionally, he provided leadership as a co-chair of the Ole Miss First Campaign and on the steering committee for the campaign to construct The Inn at Ole Miss. He served three terms as an appointed member of the Inter-Alumni Council for Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, which provided a unified voice for the state’s eight public universities.
Turner is an advisor and mentor to his college fraternity, Kappa Alpha, and was awarded the Knight Commander’s Accolade by its national organization, honored as Alumnus of the Year by the chapter and inducted into the statewide Province Court of Honor.
His gift to the Patterson School’s Building the Future campaign is the most recent of many gifts the Turners have made to Ole Miss and is part of Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, a historic $1.5 billion initiative to enhance the university with support focused on building leaders, empowering academic excellence, fueling research and innovation and creating economic opportunity. In 2001, they established the Jon and Pam Turner Ole Miss First Leadership Scholarship Endowment and in 2022 made another $100,000 commitment to it. In addition to other gifts to the Patterson School, including contributions to endowments honoring his professors, their support has benefitted the Alumni Association, Ole Miss Athletics, the Inn at Ole Miss and Children’s of Mississippi at the UM Medical Center.
To what does he attribute his continued loyalty to Ole Miss?
“It really was the interaction with accountancy professors like the legendary Gene Peery and Jimmy Davis, and the myriad of lifetime friendships formed in KA and across campus both during college and thereafter,” he said. “Ole Miss truly is a family and the campus and Oxford have remained a hub for us through the years. Ole Miss is a part of who we are, a large piece of our family fabric.”
To learn more about supporting the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund, contact Jason McCormick, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1757.
For more information on Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, visit https://umfoundation.givingfuel.com/nowandever or contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at email@example.com or 662-915-3120.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation