Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy

Lynn Pippenger

Lynn Pippenger

On Feb. 17, 2015, the University of South Florida announced that its School of Accountancy will be named for Lynn Pippenger, a long-time alumna, donor and supporter. The Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy naming recognizes a new gift of $10 million from the retired Raymond James executive, whose total giving to the USF Muma College of Business exceeds $30 million.

Pippenger's gift will fund scholarships, stipends for student interns and programs that prepare students for the Certified Public Accountant exam and other certifications. Her previous donations have funded students' study-abroad trips, built a graduate-student classroom and created a namesake finance and accounting scholarship.

At the event announcing the school's new name, Pippenger told the students, faculty, staff and donors, "I was taught to do three things. One, always give back –- in time, treasure and talent. Two, I had to save some of my money. And three, I could spend some. I still do those same things today." The third is evidenced by the generous gifts she has made to USF over nearly three decades.

In March of 2016, Pippenger made $5 million gift to what was then USF St. Petersburg. That donation was the second largest single gift in its history: to name Lynn Pippenger Hall. Pippenger’s gift funds merit scholarships for full-time and part-time undergraduate students who are studying accounting or finance. The following year Pippenger matched Kate Tiedemann’s and Ellen Cotton’s $250,000 Challenge to launch the Student Managed Investment Fund on the St. Petersburg campus. Most recently, she established a fund for study-abroad scholarships.

Pippenger is a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg. She is an alumna of both USF campuses in St. Petersburg and Tampa, completing her coursework over a twelve-year period, while working fulltime. She was one of the founding officers of St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial and led the investment and banking giant's IT and accounting divisions, retiring more than 40 years later as CFO. Her generous gifts have included a $10 million gift to name the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy and, more recently, a $5 million donation gift to endow the deanship at the Muma College of Business.

Her story has been memorialized in her memoir “Lynn Pippenger: In Her Own Words” as part of the Lynn Pippenger St. Petersburg Historical Collection at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library on USF’s St. Petersburg campus.

Pippenger was far from a traditional college student. She spent 16 years as an undergraduate, taking night classes at St. Petersburg College and USF's St. Petersburg campus while working 50 hours a week in the 1970s and 1980s. After earning her bachelor's degree, she enrolled in graduate school on the Tampa campus, graduating with honors from USF's Executive MBA program in 1988.

Pippenger's career in accounting, however, began long before she was a graduate of USF. As a teenager, she shadowed a neighbor who taught her about double-entry accounting, debits and credits. That neighbor also taught her how to use an adding machine and would let her double-check his work. Another neighbor, a stockbroker, taught her about investments.

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She started working at Raymond James in 1969, hired as a payroll clerk in the then-unknown brokerage firm. Pippenger says that job quickly evolved to become a "whatever comes my way" job, and she worked alongside Bob James, Tom James, and several other men to help build the company. She eventually served as chief financial officer and treasurer of the firm, while handling numerous special projects as the company grew. She created the firm's human resources department and launched an internal educational program now known as "Raymond James University." She formed the company's information technology department and was the architect for much of company's original technological framework – most of which is still in use today. She helped file the paperwork to take the company public.

The retired accountant and financial services executive's first gift to USF was in 1986. This latest generous gift isn't the end of her support—she fully intends to continue to support USF and the school that helped her as she built her career. "It has been something I have thought about for more than 20 years," Pippenger said. "I just finally decided to speak up."

When she retired in 2012, she had long occupied a seat at Raymond James' executive table, leaving the company as senior vice president. Since then, she has been working to ensure that USF business students get the education that could further their own career growth.