A family account: the Victor and Joan Brown MS Accounting Fellowship

Victor and Joan Brown headshot.

Victor and Joan Brown

Top accounting students will have even more reason to attend UB, thanks to an endowment created on behalf of Victor and Joan Brown.

Student working at computer.

Justin Zulewski, recipient of the Victor and Joan Brown MS Accounting Fellowship, spent his summer in an internship at EFPR Group, a public accounting firm, before starting his graduate studies at UB this fall. 

In fall 2022, Justin Zulewski (BS ’22) will start UB’s MS in Accounting program holding the newly endowed Victor and Joan Brown MS Accounting Fellowship. 

It’s a good match. Justin says he’s been in love with accounting since he was a freshman in high school. Victor Brown (PhD ’57) spent the last 10 years of his career writing the rules of financial accounting as one of the seven members of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the organization that sets accounting rules for public and private companies and nonprofits in the United States.

The fellowship that memorializes UB’s importance to Victor and Joan is actually a family affair.

Victor and Joan met in Philadelphia in the early 1950s. Victor, the bright, ambitious son of an awning maker was a scholarship student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business finishing a master’s degree.

Joan was a laboratory assistant who’d recently moved to Philadelphia from Atlantic City. Her father was a postal worker.

They married and moved to Buffalo, where Victor had been accepted into the economics doctoral program at UB. After he received his PhD and served a stint as the chair of the finance department in the School of Management, they left for New York City. Victor began what became a notable business career. They had three children—Cynthia, Douglas and Paul. 

Later in life, Victor and Joan established a donor-advised fund for their philanthropy and in 2000 started supporting UB accounting students with annual scholarship gifts. After Victor died in 2006, Joan continued the annual gifts until her death in 2020. They left responsibility for distributing their philanthropic funds to their children.

“We knew our parents’ wishes about what organizations they’d like to support,” says Paul Brown. One was the UB Masters in Accounting program. So the family decided to permanently endow a generous fellowship for the program.

“I think their time in Buffalo was magical for them in multiple ways, their wish to support UB students was in part a way for them to celebrate those days.” - Paul Brown, son of Victor and Joan Brown

Paul particularly remembers his mother’s tales of helping Victor with his dissertation, typing and editing hundreds of pages of words and graphics. He says they were always a team. 

“Having the fellowship in both their names is appropriate in all ways,” he says.

Cassie Nguyen, assistant chair of UB’s Department of Accounting and Law, is excited to have this new financial resource for attracting top accounting students to the master’s degree year.

“This endowment will truly make a difference in the lives of our accounting students. We all owe a heartfelt thank-you to the Brown family,” she says. 

The practical result of the Brown family’s generosity for Justin Zulewski, is that when he begins his graduate year, he can back off the hours he’s been working at a local BJ’s Wholesale Club through his undergraduate years and devote the time he gains to accounting. He plans to qualify for the CPA exam and start his career with one of the local accounting firms.

“For me personally,” Justin says, “it’s big!”

Published August 3, 2022