TAMPA — Bookkeeping is in Lynn Pippenger's blood.
The retired Raymond James Financial executive comes from a long line of them, including her great-grandfather, who was a county auditor, clerk and justice of the peace, and her grandmother, who ran the books at a Cleveland department store in 1900.
"Didn't think (women) had jobs then?" she asked a University of South Florida audience Tuesday.
With a lengthy family heritage of finance behind her, Pippenger, 76, landed her first gig as a grocery clerk, established a career at Raymond James and, this week, earned a spot on stage at USF's Muma College of Business, where she announced her $10 million donation to the newly named Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy.
"I am very happy, pleased and, more than anything, honored to have my name attached to one of the top-rated schools of accountancy in the country," she said.
After her donation, the USF board of trustees voted unanimously to name the school after her.
USF president Judy Genshaft called the gift "transformational" and noted it was not Pippenger's first. She said Pippenger has been supporting USF since 1986 and — including Tuesday's donation — her contributions to study-abroad programs, classroom construction and scholarships now total about $22 million.
Both the $10 million donation and Pippenger's cumulative gifts rank among the top 10 in USF history.
"We're very excited," Genshaft said.
The gift comes just months after Les and Pam Muma donated $25 million to the USF College of Business, which led the university to rename the college after the couple.
"Their naming of the college of business was awesome and inspiring, and told me that if I wanted to do something, I better be quick," Pippenger said. "Thus, the last four months have been spent working on this."
The college's dean, Moez Limayem, reflected on the Muma renaming before introducing Pippenger.
"A few months ago, I told you I was honored, excited and proud to be the dean of the Muma College of Business," Limayem said. "Guess what. Today I am more proud, more excited and cannot be happier to be the dean of the Muma College of Business, home of the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy."
Pippenger started working at Raymond James as a payroll clerk in 1969 — nearly 20 years before receiving her master of business administration degree from USF, her undergraduate alma mater. She worked her way up to chief financial officer and senior vice president and helped take the company public before retiring three years ago.
Tom James of Raymond James spoke Tuesday about Pippenger's role in the firm's history as she smiled on stage.
"In spite of the good weather and all that down here, no one thought that you could run a brokerage firm from St. Petersburg, Florida," James said. "Lynn helped us prove them wrong."
James used words like "self-made," "disciplined" and "bright" to describe Pippenger, who first introduced the firm to the Internet and used profits from her company stock to fund the USF donation.
"She helped build Raymond James," he said. "Many people don't know that."
Pippenger has previously donated to the St. Petersburg Public Library, the Greater Largo Library Foundation and other educational groups.
"As you can tell, accounting and libraries are very important to me," she said. "I believe education at every level and throughout our lives is critical to one's success and well-being."
Limayem said Pippenger's contribution will propel the school's research initiatives and give faculty the framework to better prepare students for CPA, CMA, CFA and "anything that has a C" certifications, he said.
"For our students, this means a lot," he said. "I hear you, our colleagues hear you, but more importantly, Lynn Pippenger heard you."
Contact Rachel Crosby at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400. Follow @rachelacrosby.