By Tina H. Hahn
University of Mississippi
The courtyard of the new home of the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy is to be named after the Burns family to honor the $1 million donation from longtime donors for building construction.
Sheryl and Roland Burns, of Frisco, Texas, donated to recognize Roland, who graduated from the school in 1982, and their two sons, Derek and Tyler, who also graduated from the School of Accountancy in 2014 and 2018, respectively .
Growing student numbers are driving plans for a new college hostel that will cost around $70 million. The Burns Family Courtyard will mark the entrance to the four-story facility comprising 100,000 square feet of multi-level auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, lecture halls, administrative offices and teachers, as well as outdoor balconies and terraces.
“The Patterson School of Accountancy has always had a special place in our family,” said Roland Burns, who earned undergraduate and master’s degrees through the program.
“Overall, the Patterson School has the best program in the university and is nationally ranked. Additionally, KPMG chose the school to support its Master’s in Accounting and Data Analytics and Master’s in Tax and Data Analytics, and paid tuition for 129 students from across the country to earn master’s degrees in data analysis at Ole Miss.
The new residence hall will be built on a prime campus real estate at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, with balconies providing event space overlooking the iconic Grove.
“I’ve seen the architectural renders, which are great,” Burns said. “It will be a magnificent building in an incredible location. We are all very impressed and I hope this new building helps the school maintain its place among the top programs in the country.
The school has a long-standing reputation as one of the best accounting education programs in the country. It sits No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference rankings in 2021 – marking its 10th consecutive year of ranking in the Top 10. In 2021, the school awarded a record 588 degrees, of which 253 were master’s degrees.
At Ole Miss, “we accounting students felt like we were part of a very special program,” Burns said. “I lost my father to cancer my senior year in high school and teachers Gene Peery and Jimmy Davis took me under their wings.
“I have such fond memories of their time at school; they trained students to become professionals. Derek and Tyler were also taught by Dr. Davis, and he was also their favorite teacher during their time at Ole Miss.
“The Patterson School of Accountancy’s emphasis on teaching and student development is what inspires its alumni to support the university. My accounting teachers took a personal interest in my future career and advised me on how to succeed in the business world. I left college and headed to Dallas, Texas, entering the competitive world of public accounting very well prepared to build a career in business.
Chancellor Glenn Boyce expressed his gratitude to the Burns.
“We are incredibly proud to have the Burns family among our graduates and are extremely grateful for their generous support of the Patterson School,” Boyce said. “This latest donation will help defray the construction costs of our new facility, which will put our school in a strong position to serve generations of accounting students.
“Sheryl and Roland Burns have a deep commitment to meeting needs, whether it’s faculty support, internships or facilities. They help improve the quality of our education and the student experience, which is so important to our program. »
Sheryl and Roland Burns serve on the steering committee of Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss, the $1.5 billion campaign to strengthen the university for generations. Patterson School Hall of Fame inductee Roland Burns also serves as alumni leadership on the UM Foundation Board of Trustees and the foundation’s audit committee.
“Mississippi has fewer resources than elsewhere, and the university has always done a lot with little,” Burns said. “I would tell other donors that they will get what they pay for. It’s great to give back and feel like you’re making a difference.
Sheryl and Roland Burns were honored with appointment to the Burns Chair of Accountancy, a prestigious professorship held by Dale Flesher; Burns Hall, a residence hall on the Oxford campus; and the Burns team meeting room for the Ole Miss football program to pay tribute to their support of the institution. They give equal gifts to academics and sportsmen.
“We saw the value of football as a gateway to bringing alumni and friends back to campus,” said Roland Burns. “The sports programs are linked to the dynamism of our university.”
In addition to financial support, Burns offers Ole Miss accounting students the opportunity to participate in an internship program with the financial reporting department of Comstock Resources, an independent energy company, of which he is chairman and chief financial officer. This opportunity provides students with insight into the financial workings of a publicly traded company.
The Birmingham, Alabama native joined Comstock in 1990 as Chief Financial Officer and helped grow the company by overseeing a series of acquisitions, joint ventures and financial transactions. Upon becoming chairman, he was instrumental in transforming the company from a small start-up with few resources into a $7.5 billion NYSE-listed natural gas producer.
Prior to Comstock, Burns spent eight years in Dallas with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP, working primarily in oil and gas auditing.
Sons Derek and Tyler Burns both work for KPMG in Dallas. Derek Burns is Manager and Tyler Burns is Senior Accountant. The couple also have a daughter, Stephanie Burns, a graduate of Southern Methodist University.
For more information on supporting the School of Accountancy’s new home, contact Jason McCormick at [email protected]s.edu or 662-915-1757.