Passing along traditions—from supporting Orange basketball to supporting Syracuse University—is a way of life for the Kreischer family, a three-generation University family with deep roots in the Whitman School.
Siblings Jennifer Kreischer ’88 and Brian Kreischer ’91—both accounting majors at Whitman—hold volunteer leadership positions at Syracuse University. Jennifer is chair of the Whitman School’s Accounting Advisory Board, while Brian is co-chair of the Syracuse University San Francisco Regional Council.
They follow the legacy their parents established. John “Jack” Kreischer III ’65, an accounting graduate of the Whitman School, is a life trustee of Syracuse University. Lynn Duncan Kreischer ’66, who studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, is an emerita member of the School of Education Board of Visitors and its former chair.
“It’s rewarding to stay connected to the learning and innovation that goes on at SU,” says Brian, managing partner at Frank, Rimerman + Co. CPAs in Silicon Valley. “It’s also fun because it’s a family affair,” he adds, recalling a time a few years ago when all four were chairing a committee for the University.
Growing up in the Kreischer home in suburban Philadelphia, the siblings heard many stories about Syracuse University. Jack grew up in the Syracuse area, where his father, John “Jack” Kreischer Jr. ’41, ran a business providing meat to local restaurants and played saxophone in many big band orchestras. After Jack and Lynn met during high school, Lynn convinced her parents that Syracuse was the school for her by earning a full academic scholarship.
The men’s basketball team forged the first memories of Syracuse University experiences for Jennifer and Brian. In 1980, Villanova University joined the year-old Big East Conference, creating a fierce rivalry with the Orange. The Kreischer family made it an annual outing to attend Syracuse at Villanova games. “It’s a family bonding experience to be alone in orange in a sea of blue and white in enemy territory. I remember seeing Leo Rautins, Danny Schayes and Pearl Washington, among others,” says Brian.
“Other sports always seemed slow compared to basketball, thanks to the Orange,” Jennifer says, crediting Brian with instilling Orange pride in the next generation. “I can remember Brian’s daughter, Odessa, when she was barely old enough to speak. If she saw any basketball game on the TV, she would say, ‘Go, Orange!’”
Jack founded Kreischer Miller, a regional CPA firm located in Horsham, Pennsylvania, and served many years as managing partner before retiring. The firm is one of the largest independent regional CPA firms in the country. He became a trustee when he assumed presidency of the Syracuse University Alumni Association board in 1991 and was named a Life Trustee in 2005.
Jennifer Kreischer was named chair of the Joseph I. Lubin School of Accounting Advisory Board in 2017. The board, with nearly two dozen members, provides insight to faculty and students about the accounting profession. Many members are on-campus several times during the year to recruit or speak at classes. Normally, the board meets twice a semester, once on campus and once at Lubin House in New York City.
“It’s tough to tell which part of that experience I value the most: the great exposure to the students, the alumni or the faculty,” she says.
After graduation, Jennifer joined PwC, working her way up to partner at its Philadelphia office. She left in 2011 to become an independent accounting professional and, in 2012, joined her father’s firm, now a 200-person, full service accounting firm. She is a consultant focusing on operational due diligence in the investment management industry. Jennifer leads teams on financial and operational due diligence projects at Kreischer Miller.
“I took skills that started in accounting at Whitman, were honed and developed at PwC—including 12 years as a partner in the transaction services practice—and have put them to work with Kreischer Miller’s middle-market clients,” she says.
Brian joined Frank, Rimerman + Co. when he graduated. Before becoming the firm’s managing partner in 2015, he served Silicon Valley clients in capacities from auditing, tax, systems implementation, litigation support and business consulting.
Serving on the University’s San Francisco Regional Council, Brian helped build an engaged group of alumni volunteers who support the University’s admissions office, interviewing about 100 applicants a year in the Bay Area, he says. Interviews are hosted in San Francisco and on Google’s campus in Silicon Valley.
The siblings are glad to stand in the long line of alumni who volunteer for the University. They speak as one with advice for today’s students and young alumni.
“Whitman alumni tend to be smart, loyal and creative in their approaches to problem-solving,” Jennifer says. “I have also found that programs geared toward connecting more recent alumni are a great way to build your personal and professional networks. Almost any career for a Whitman alum benefits from a strong network.”
“Get as broad an experience as you can. Take advantage of the whole University,” says Brian. “You’re there to learn how to think, to learn how to learn.”
He says he took as many courses as he could, particularly in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. That’s the same place where Jennifer started at the University as an undeclared major.
As Jennifer worked at their father’s firm in the summers, she says she began to think business was the right place for her, so she transferred to Whitman. “As I got into my business classes, I noticed that the accounting majors were getting jobs. Equally importantly, it seemed like a field that would allow me to see many different businesses, and I have enjoyed that variety ever since,” she says.
Their parents didn’t pressure them to apply to Syracuse, the siblings agree, although Jack accompanied Jennifer and three of her high school friends on a campus visit. Two of those friends ended up at the University with her. “Not a bad conversion rate for the recruiting class,” she says.
The best advice from his father was not about his first year but about a summer internship, says Brian. Since he would spend a lifetime working in accounting, why not get an internship in something different?
“It was fantastic advice, and I spent a summer in D.C. doing a journalism internship,” Brian says. “Mom and Dad both always encouraged getting involved and trying new things.”
Expectations were low for the unheralded Syracuse football team when it hosted No. 1 Nebraska in September 1984, Jennifer’s first year on campus. She sat with friends in the marching band to watch what became one of the most storied victories in Orange history, as Syracuse won 17-9.
One of her favorite memories as a student is calling her parents from a pay phone on Marshall Street to tell them the result, at a time when that was the easiest way to reach one’s home.
“What an upset and what fun to call home and share it,” she says.
Going to college in the city where their grandparents lived was a treat, too. “When I lived off-campus, I joked around that we grilled filet mignon because we couldn’t afford hot dogs,” Jennifer says. Her grandfather Jack Kreischer Jr. would bring a free case of meat for her house; otherwise, she jokes, they would have had to pay for hot dogs.
For Brian, walking on campus one evening with his grandfather and hearing his stories created a cherished memory.
Living at home, his grandfather would drive a Model T to campus in the 1930s. “But it didn’t start very reliably, so he had to get a parking spot on a hill—I think it was on Waverly—so he could jumpstart the car to get home” by letting it roll downhill, Brian says.
The most important memory of a Syracuse University education remains the opportunity to learn. Thirty years after her college days, Jennifer says, “The one constant in our future will be change and the need to keep learning.”
And in learning, students never know what they may encounter. A course in Brian’s junior year required a subscription to The Wall Street Journal. The first day the paper was delivered to his door, his father appeared on the front page.
“I was blown away and wondered how often that happened. Turns out it was just an extraordinary coincidence,” he says. His father, active in standard- setting in the accounting profession, was quoted in a report on the accounting debate created by the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s.
Enjoy as much of the learning experience as possible, Jennifer urges today’s students.
She says, “Whitman, and SU more broadly, provide such a wonderful way to tailor your learning experience. The more you can enjoy learning and learn how to do it effectively, the more successful you will be, and the more fun you will have.”