February 14, 2022

Dr. Nate Sharp was tired of talk. He made that much clear on a Zoom call with representatives from the “Big Four” accounting firm PwC after he became head of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in fall 2020. “Honestly, every school talks about wanting to improve in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Sharp told them. “There’s talk about focus groups and training sessions and more meetings. There’s all this talk, and nothing happens. We have to actually do something to move the needle.”

Big Four Support

As one of those Big Four firms, PwC is also committed to diversifying its workforce of more than 55,000 employees. Its senior partner and chair, Tim Ryan, explained his company’s commitment to the New York Times in March 2021. “When we looked at the teams inside PwC that were servicing our top clients six years ago, they were done by white men,” he said. “We made the decision that we were going to change that. So, we invested more in our pipeline.” As home to one of the nation’s top accounting programs, Texas A&M is a crucial piece of that pipeline.

“It’s not enough to recruit students here. We have to do what we can to help them succeed.”
- Dr. Nate Sharp

Though 20 endowed scholarships may seem like an arbitrary figure, department leadership came to the number to ensure that, once fully funded, they could perpetually offer a scholarship to about four recipients each year, supporting each recipient for all five years in the accounting program. Sharp also stressed the initiative’s secondary component, the BASS Learning Community. “It’s not enough to recruit students here,” he said. “We have to do what we can to help them succeed.” Funds that endow the BASS Learning Community will cover NABA membership dues, conference registration and travel, opportunities to network and bring in industry and professional development speakers, and more.

Building a lasting community of Black students in the department means recognizing mentorship and connection as critical components to building lifelong careers. Even though accounting as a profession rewards a strong individual work ethic, Miller and his peers at PwC all pay homage to those who encouraged, challenged and instructed them at key points in their professional journeys.

“You never reach a point where you don't have mentors,” Miller said. He sees the BASS Initiative as the ultimate career kick-starter. “These scholarship recipients are going to start school with a network of people who want them to excel and have endless opportunities.” It took a few words of advice to take him around the world and back. With unending support from faculty, staff and partners like PwC, there would be no limit to what those students could accomplish.

The James Benjamin Department of Accounting at Mays Business School is seeking generous support toward the BASS Initiative. For $300,000, you can endow a full-ride FEA scholarship to support students in perpetuity or create a pass-through scholarship for $50,000. A substantial gift of $2 million will endow the BASS Learning Community, providing endless opportunities for Black accounting students.

If you or your corporation are interested in supporting the BASS Initiative, please contact Damara Lotten at the bottom of this page.

You can also explore our complimentary Giving Guide to discover the many unique ways you can give back to support your passions at Texas A&M.

Download our free Giving Guide