May 04 2016

$1 Million Gift Creates Lifelong Funding for UM Professorship in Finance

In 2003, the University of Montana’s School of Business Administration created its first privately funded professorship thanks to a gift from Carol Jean Byrnes in honor of her late husband, Donald. Now, a second act of generosity ensures the Donald and Carol Jean Byrnes Professorship in Finance will continue for generations to come.

With a posthumous gift of $1 million, made through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Carol Jean Byrnes has created an endowment for the professorship. That means the donation will be invested and the proceeds will support the position in perpetuity.

 “This gift will ensure the University of Montana School of Business Administration carries on a strong tradition of building financial literacy among our students and contributing to the broader field of study,” said Dean Larry Gianchetta.

There have been two Byrnes Professors at SoBA since 2003: Joseph Vinso, who served from 2003 to 2007, and Keith Jakob, who joined the UM faculty in 2000 and has served as Byrnes Professor since 2007.

With private support, the Byrnes Professor can more easily pursue research and maintain a record of publication in top journals. Not only does this scholarly work benefit the field in general, it also translates to superior teaching. Jakob has taught courses at UM in corporate finance and investments, as well as financial statement analysis. He has published papers in the world’s elite finance journals, including Journal of Financial Economics, Financial Management and the Journal of Financial Research.

The Byrnes family’s donations also support the Byrnes Accounting and Finance Research Seminar, which showcases internationally renowned experts and helps students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the field. Since 2003, SoBA has hosted 62 lectures on topics such as financial audits, wealth management and accounting ethics.

Carol Jean and Donald both are from Glendive, and met during high school. After serving as a Navy seaman in World War II, Donald earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UM in 1949. Upon his graduation, the couple spent time in cities around the country before settling in Tampa, Florida, where Donald rose to chief executive of the Spalding and Evenflo Companies before retiring as president and chief executive of Pueblo Xtra International.

Despite the distance and a busy schedule managing multinational companies, Donald always found time to return to Missoula. His business acumen made him an oft-invited lecturer at UM’s business school, but it was his willingness to share his personal experiences and interact with students that made him a class favorite. He also served on the UM Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and was vice chairman when he passed away in 1995.

Although Carol never attended college, she supported UM because of the special place it held in Donald’s heart. Her first gift established a merit-based scholarship for business undergraduate and graduate students from Montana. Since it was inaugurated in 1997, the fund has helped more than 25 students attend UM. She expanded her support in 2003 by establishing the Byrnes Professorship, and now her and Donald’s legacy will live on at UM forever thanks to her final act of generosity.