Maybe it was the announcement of Lynn Pippenger’s $10 million gift to the Muma College of Business, that caused hundreds to smile Tuesday morning.
Maybe it was just her quiet humor.
During the announcement of the newly named Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy, Moez Limayem, dean of the recently named Muma College of Business, described a dream where every student would graduate from his college with a job — one in a field they were trained for, one with a competitive salary.
Though this dream received a significant boost months ago when Pam and Les Muma donated the largest gift in USF history, $25 million, and created the Muma College of Business, Pippenger’s gift will continue driving that dream forward.
Pippenger said she used to be the type of student that would make USF President Judy Genshaft cringe: a student that took the better part of 16 years to get a four-year degree between St. Pete College and USF St.Pete, before enrolling in USF’s Executive MBA program.
She graduated from the program on time, with honors, and has since become a philanthropist who, since her first gift in 1986, has donated more than $22 million to the university.
Pippenger started as a payroll clerk and quickly moved into an accounting position in 1969 at what she described as an unknown brokerage firm, Raymond James Financial.
Though she would stay with the firm for many years, she described it as a “whatever comes my way job.” At the time, she wanted to be a teacher, an accountant, a stockbroker, an architect, and even wanted to get involved in computer technology.
What she discovered was that, over the years, she would be able to make her job include roles as part all five of those careers by expanding the once small company. Back then, she said, she was skeptical about being partially paid in stocks in the company.
When she said this in the Muma College of Business Atrium on Tuesday morning, she turned around and laughed to her long-time colleague Tom James, CEO of Raymond James Financial.
Today, Raymond James Financial and its subsidiaries employ more than 6,200 financial advisors and serve an estimated 2.6 million accounts worldwide, with client assets totaling approximately $483 billion.
She said she still owns stocks in the company.
Working along with Tom James and his father to build the small company into what it is today, Pippenger served as the chief financial officer and treasure and created the firm’s human resources department, as well as an educational program called “Raymond James University.” Taking on a variety of special projects, Pippenger also played a significant role in building the company’s information technology department.
In this way, she achieved her dream of becoming an accountant, a stock broker, a teacher, an architect and working in computer technology.
Having grown up with brothers and both parents leading a troupe of 20 boy scouts, Pippenger joked about that she was raised for the competitive field.
“With this background, it never really bothered me to work in the male-dominated brokerage industry,” she said.
Despite Pippenger’s history of philanthropy with donations to the Greater Largo Library Foundation, creating study abroad scholarships and other donations to the College of Business, she said it was the Mumas’ $25 million gift that inspired her to make the gift that would establish the School of Accountancy with her name on it.
“Their naming the college of business was awesome, inspiring, and told me that if I wanted to do something, I better get with it,” she said.
According to Limayem, Pippenger’s gift will establish a preparation program called Certification for Success to help students achieve CPA, CMA and CIA credentials.
“I can assure you that our students will win; not only through the Certifying for Success, but they will have more scholarships to study abroad, they will have the infrastructure that guarantee one internship for every student,” Limayem said.
Pippenger’s gift is only the latest in a string of donations to the USF Foundation’s $1 billion Unstoppable campaign.
“Gifts like the one announced today are at the heart of what donors to the USF Foundation are doing through this campaign,” said USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg. “We’re grateful to Lynn for her longstanding generosity. Over the life of our Unstoppable campaign, Lynn has given more than $22 million to USF, of which $21 million has been to the Muma College of Business. We know the faculty and students of the school share our gratitude.”