LAWRENCE — University of Kansas alumni who are partners and employees of BKD, one of the largest CPA firms in the nation, have contributed more than $300,000 toward construction of a new home for the School of Business. Construction began last spring, and the new building will open its doors for classes in fall 2016.
KU alumnus Bill Pickert, managing partner of BKD’s offices in Wichita, led the fundraising drive within BKD. He and his wife, Traci, met at KU, where they both earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration. Traci Pickert is an active community volunteer in Wichita and chair of the board of Music Theatre Wichita.
Bill Pickert said he appreciated the support of the 10 other individuals who contributed to BKD’s drive and the matching gifts made by the firm.
“During my years at the University of Kansas, I not only developed a number of great lifelong relationships, but the education and the mentorship of the professors was instrumental in my professional career,” he said. “This support is an opportunity for the BKD partners and employees to help make sure future generations of Kansans have the same opportunity we have had.”
Bill Pickert said he was inspired to initiate the BKD drive after having conversations with Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the business school.
“Neeli is such a dynamic leader and an inspirational person in her own right,” he said. “I think that’s certainly part of our decision to get on board with the School of Business and the Far Above fundraising campaign. We are impressed with her as a leader, with her enthusiasm for the building project and with the overall program at the KU School of Business.”
Bendapudi expressed appreciation for the gift.
“The School of Business is truly grateful for the gift from BKD’s partners and employees and to Bill and Traci Pickert for their leadership in making this pledge a reality,” she said. “The new building allows us to build a greater sense of community for future KU business students. Alumni support propels the School of Business as a great place to work, a great place to learn and a great place in which to invest.”
BKD, which is headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, serves clients in all 50 states and internationally. The firm provides a wide range of assurance, tax and accounting outsourcing services, including specialized consulting to numerous industries, such as health care, financial institutions, insurance, manufacturing, distribution, construction, real estate and energy, along with not-for-profit organizations, governmental entities, colleges and universities.
The gifts count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.