More than 100 UAB School of Business students, alumni, faculty and staff attended a reception at the UAB Alumni House on December 6 to honor beloved professor Ollie Powers, who retires this month after teaching at the school for 40 years.
Powers was one of the first instructors at the School when it opened in 1971, and he became a full-time faculty member in 1976.
Through the years, Powers has taught thousands of graduates – sometimes two generations within the same family – and become a fixture in many of their lives.
Lowell Broom, former associate dean at the School of Business, was one of several speakers who hailed Powers at the retirement reception.
“What makes Ollie so special is not his technical competence, which is certainly very high, and not the fact that he entertains while he teaches, which he certainly does,” Broom said. “It is his connection with his students. He genuinely cares for his students. He cares about them not just when they’re in his class, he continues to care about them for years after.”
Before joining the School of Business faculty, Powers served as Accounting Officer with Central Bancshares of the South, Inc. (later Compass Bancshares, Inc., which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of BBVA, a Spanish banking organization), where he was involved in financial reporting and reported to the Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer.
Most recently, Powers taught multiple levels of financial accounting at UAB.
In the early 2000s, Powers was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease, but refused to let that stop him from teaching. He endured a lung transplant and returned to the classroom as soon as possible. During his illness, friends, alumni and colleagues raised money for an endowed scholarship in his honor. The Ollie S. Powers Endowed Scholarship in Accounting is now awarded to an entering freshman or currently enrolled accounting major or MAc student who demonstrates solid academic promise or achievement.
Throughout his career, Powers has inspired young would-be accountants. He has served as associate editor of the New Accountant High School Recruiting Edition, a national publication aimed at recruiting high school students to the accounting profession, and served on the board of the Finance Academy of Shades Valley High School.
“When I first came to UAB, I was so happy I thought I should pay the university rather than take a paycheck myself,” Powers joked later. “I have really had what I consider to be a gratifying, fulfilling career.”
The Alumni, Development and External Relations office continues to accept contributions to the Ollie S. Powers Endowed Scholarship in Accounting. Contact the office directly for more information.