Sophomore Rachel Humphries would not have considered being a Neeley Fellow, being a marketing major or even attending the university if she had not heard Bill Moncrief speak at her orientation three years ago.
“I know the reason that I came to the Neeley School of Business is because he spoke at my orientation,” Humphries said. “I was sitting next to my mom and she was like ‘This guy is great, you’re going to TCU!’ and I was like ‘There you go.’”
Respected colleague, professor, mentor and friend were some of the words used by some of his students and co-workers to describe the senior associate dean of the Neeley School of Business.
So on Tuesday, when Moncrief announced to his Neeley Fellows Marketing Management class, “I will be stepping down as associate dean… You will be the last Fellows class that reports to me,” emotions spurred from many.
“It’s a crying shame, honestly,” Humphries said.
Sophomore accounting major Brooks Anthony said the news was unexpected.
Moncrief said he planned to return to teaching as well as assuming the position of chair of the marketing department after spending 12 years as senior associate dean of the business school.
“It is time for someone else to do the job,” he said. “I have loved it. It’s a great time, but it’s a very demanding job, and I was ready to go back to the faculty.”
Although he may now be seen less frequently at the dean’s office on the third floor of Tandy Hall, the legacy Moncrief leaves behind will remain around every corner of the Neeley School of Business.
His various accomplishments as senior associate dean included the creation of the Neeley Fellows program in 2006, Neeley Premium Credentials, creation of many professional development programs and taking the undergraduate program from unranked to ranked in the nation, Moncrief said.
Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Neeley’s undergraduate program 28 of 142 ranked schools for its 2012’s Best Undergraduate Business Schools list.
During his time as dean, Moncrief also took on the responsibilities of overseeing anything undergraduate-related at the Neeley School of Business, such as recruiting and student issues. He gained a reputation for being a very “student-oriented dean” from his colleagues and students alike.
“What I have always felt was important was to respect the student,” he said. “To listen to their side and be empathetic.”
“He is around every single minute you need to talk to him. He has a wonderful relationship with every student,” Anthony said. “He doesn’t just know your name, he knows stuff about you – what sports you like, whether you’re a college fan, anything.”
Humphries considered Moncrief a father-figure.
“He is probably one of the greatest teachers I have ever had,” she said. “He has this way of being less of a teacher and more of a coach. You just feel like you could go to him for any kind of advice, and it’s almost like having a dad when your dad is not around.”
His devotion to his students mirrors his devotion to the university. Having worked at the university 30 years, Moncrief said he has received numerous offers to be dean elsewhere including at his alma mater, Ole Miss, but said he did not accept the job offers.
“I’m a frog… I’m literally a diehard, bleed-purple frog,” Moncrief said.
Chair of the marketing department and associate professor of marketing George Low was appointed to take over the role of senior associate dean for the business school starting this fall.
Low, currently serving as an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow at the University of Texas at Arlington, said he felt the pressure of following in the footsteps of such a highly respected member of the university.
“There are huge shoes to fill in Moncrief and all the wonderful things he has done for the Neeley School for many, many years,” he said. “Who could ever fill his position?”
While surprise may have been the reaction from many, support is what followed.
John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business O. Homer Erekson said Moncrief would continue to be one of the most respected and passionate leaders at Neeley.
Humphries and Anthony said his students would support him as well.
“If [being a faculty member] is something he wants to do, that is good for him, we are all right there behind him in that,” Anthony said.
His role may now be different, but the person behind the title remains the same. Moncrief said despite the role change he would continue to be “a student’s advocate.”
While he takes the next step in his career at the Neeley School of Business, Erekson said Moncrief’s influence at the school while serving as senior associate dean would not be forgotten.
“There is so much about the Neeley School that really has the touch of Bill Moncrief on it,” Erekson said.