A recent $2.1 million gift to the University of Mississippi will provide program support to the Patterson School of Accountancy for decades to come.
The late Wilton Ernest Dyson of Birmingham, Alabama, bequeathed the major gift to the university and designated it for use within the Patterson School at the dean’s discretion.
“We are extremely grateful to Wilton Dyson for his foresight to include the Patterson School of Accountancy in his estate planning. The generosity of Mr. Dyson will enable us to ensure a quality education for many future generations of Patterson School students through scholarships, faculty support, and operating funds for our program,” Dean Mark Wilder said. "We are honored to have the Wilton Dyson name and legacy forever associated with The University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy.”
Planned gifts award donors membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes those who thoughtfully provide for the university through bequests and deferred gifts.
Dyson’s endowment, managed by Regions Bank, will provide approximately $150,000 per year to the Patterson School. In 2016, the Public Accounting Report named the Patterson School No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference for its master’s and doctoral programs, No. 2 in the SEC for its undergraduate program and one of the nation’s top 10 accountancy programs.
“Clearly, this gift indicates that Mr. Dyson had a great appreciation for Ole Miss and a deep sense of loyalty to the accounting profession as a whole,” said Mollie Jourdan Seymour, a 2005 UM graduate and trust officer for Dyson’s endowment. “What an amazing legacy to leave!”
His great-niece Ramona Kent of Golden, Colorado, said that Dyson credited his UM education — he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1941 — as well as the accounting profession for changing his life, enabling him to find success after the Great Depression.
“In our family, education was very important,” said Kent, a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native and 1981 Ole Miss business graduate, who lettered in tennis under coaches Russell Blair and Billy Chadwick. “Secondly, accounting is what he loved and it played a big role in the man that he became.”
After college, Dyson, a Kentwood, Louisiana, native, served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in World War II before joining Ernst & Ernst, where he practiced accounting for the bulk of his professional life. Most recently, he worked as vice president and trust officer of Regions Bank. He also was a member of the Alabama Society of CPAs and First Sertoma Club of Birmingham.
“The Patterson School of Accountancy has a history of great financial support from its alumni base,” said Wendell Weakley, UM Foundation president and CEO. “This level of giving is a testament to the quality of education our graduates receive.”
Kent said her “Uncle B” was always very generous.
“He was obviously very special to me. He was a very kind person and there were no hidden agendas with him. He was a man of integrity and trust,” she said. “I just can’t say enough about the role model he was and what he meant to me. He was just a great human being.”
For information on including the University of Mississippi in long-term estate and financial plans, alumni and friends can visit www.umfoundation.planmylegacy.org or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or [email protected].
By Bill Dabney