Call of the City - an Alum Pays it Forward


Susan Norton Jamison ’78

By the time Susan Norton Jamison ’78 was in high school, two things were certain: She wanted to be an accountant and to attend college in the city.

Jamison, who grew up in Macon County, knew that finding a job in the accounting field would be easier in an urban area. UNC Charlotte’s small class sizes were a draw as well as the accounting program designed by the late Thomas Turner, namesake of the Turner School of Accountancy. 

Jamison’s degree from UNC Charlotte paved the way for her successful 40-year career as a certified public accountant. Now, she’s giving back by helping other accounting students.

In October, she established the Susan N. Jamison Accounting Scholarship with a $101,000 donation. The endowment will support rising juniors and seniors from North Carolina enrolled in the Turner School of Accountancy, giving preference to those like Jamison who are first-generation college students and from the state’s rural areas.

Mary Claudia “MC” Belk Pilon, president and chair of the John M. Belk Endowment, matched Jamison’s gift with one of her own through a charitable trust in her name. 

The Jamison scholarship  means more than money for its recipients. Students also will gain knowledge from an expert in the field. Jamison plans to be hands-on with students, helping them with career advice and internship opportunities.

“It’s about engagement,” she said.Susan Norton Jamison ’78

Jamison’s parents did not have four-year degrees but expected their daughter to pursue one. Perry Norton was a maintenance worker, and Norma Norton, a teaching assistant, attended community college.

“My dad would have worked three jobs if necessary to send me to college,” Jamison said.

Turner, who came to the University in 1966, recruited high-quality faculty who believed in mentoring students. The accounting program grew quickly due to the success of graduates like Jamison, while the University earned a reputation  for having a premier program.

Recently, the Turner School of Accountancy raised more than $5.2 million in gifts and commitments from more than 285 donors.

“I think it was really his life,” said Jamison of Turner’s dedication to the accounting program. “ He had a passion for  the Accounting Department to be competitive with those of great schools like (UNC) Chapel Hill and Wake Forest (University) that are a lot older than UNC Charlotte. He understood the level of academics required for courses in the curriculum and how to prepare students for the CPA exam.”

After graduation, Jamison worked in the Auditing Department of KPMG. In 1985, she joined Belk Inc., where she held several positions, including vice president and tax advisor. She retired from the company in 2014 and now operates her own wealth planning consulting practice, Wealth Matters LLC.

Jamison has remained involved with her alma mater, serving on the Alumni Board in the 1980s and currently as a member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board.

For Jamison, a UNC Charlotte accounting degree led to a “great living, financial security and various career opportunities. It’s just been a land of opportunity for me,” she said.

Now, her focus is making sure that future generations of accounting graduates enjoy similar experiences.