James W. Davis is a native of Panola County, Miss. He received his bachelor of business administration in 1962 and a master of science in accountancy in 1963 from the University of Mississippi. Upon graduation, he joined the Houston, Texas office of Arthur Andersen & Co.
After two years in Houston, he was hired as an assistant professor of accountancy at Ole Miss teaching accounting and pursuing a doctorate degree, which he earned in 1971. In 1985, he received the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award, now the Elsie M. Hood Award. Davis served as president of the Mississippi Society of CPAs in 1983-1984 and received their Outstanding Educator Award in 1993. He won the Patterson School of Accountancy’s Outstanding Teacher Award five times and was named the Peery Professor of Accountancy in 1995.
Davis served as dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy from 1993-2002. During that time, Conner Hall was completely renovated along with the construction of Holman Hall, a project that received the largest amount of donor funding in the history of Ole Miss to that time.
While he was dean, the university received the collections of the AICPA library in New York, making the J. D. Williams Library the Library of the Accounting Profession in the United States – the largest accounting library in the world.
Davis officially retired in 2009 but has continued teaching part-time and retains the title of Peery Professor of Accountancy Emeritus. He is a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Sigma Nu Fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi.