The University at Buffalo School of Management announces one of the largest cash gifts in the school’s history that will create the Kenneth W. Colwell Chair in Accounting and Law.
The $1.5 million gift, contributed by UB alumnus David Pfeil (BA '72, BS '72) was a surprise tribute to his longtime friend, Colwell (BA ’71, BS '72) who Pfeil met while a student at UB. Pfeil credits Colwell with assisting him in completing his coursework in the rigorous accounting program and landing his first job in the accounting field. It was a contribution to his success that Pfeil never forgot as he was looking for a meaningful way to honor his friend.
“If it weren’t for Ken‘s help I might still be a senior at UB,” said Pfeil, who founded the Texas-based Southwest Consulting Associates, a health care consulting company, in 1989 and led the firm for 25 years until his retirement in 2013. “I decided to major in accounting in the fall of my senior year. I had to finish an incomplete and take all of the remaining accounting courses in two semesters on top of working 32 hours a week. Ken helped me understand accounting principles, assisted me with homework, and prepped me for exams.”
“What’s more remarkable is that his assistance continued when we joined Ernst & Young (then Ernst & Ernst), when I started my own company, and continues to this day with his mentorship of my sons,” Pfeil continued. “I’m not the only benefactor of Ken’s mentorship and friendship. He assisted other students at UB, mentored dozens at E & Y and its clients, and demonstrates his compassion with his charity work at the Salvation Army.“
The gift, which will support a faculty position in UB’s prestigious School of Management Department of Accounting and Law, is the first endowed chair in the department. It will enable UB to recruit a senior-level scholar to teach present and future UB students while also expanding the department’s research expertise in cutting-edge areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics and growing the department’s industry partnerships and relationships.
“The School of Management provides students with a 21st century education,” says Dean Paul Tesluk. “And our Accounting and Law Department is expanding its focus beyond financial reporting to include how AI and data analytics will shape the future of the industry. To lead our students and faculty into this new era, we need a faculty leader who can work with industry and corporate leaders at a high level and conduct vital research that can be applied immediately into real-world applications. David’s gift, in honor of Ken, will now make this possible, and is a fitting testament to the power of relationships formed by our UB students.”
Pfeil, a resident of Plano, Texas, surprised his longtime friend with the news of the endowed chair gift last month. The gift will be formally celebrated by Pfeil, Colwell, their families and friends, and UB leadership at a reception on Sept. 10 at the Park Country Club, where Pfeil has been a member for over 30 years.
"I was honored to learn that because of our friendship, David had named this prestigious Endowment after me,” said Colwell. “It is an especially important honor as it is the first Endowed Chair in the Department of Accounting and Law. Our friendship has been one of helping each other through our lives and careers since the day we met at UB."
The gift to establish the Kenneth W. Colwell Chair in Accounting and Law is part of the University’s comprehensive Boldly Buffalo fundraising campaign, which seeks to raise $650 million to transform our students, empower our faculty and impact our world. The effort, which launched publicly in April 2018, is 88 percent of the way to its goal.