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University of Missouri

Dean There, Done That

Mizzou alumnus retires after 41 years as dean at North Carolina A&T.

Quiester Craig

Quiester Craig was the eighth African-American in the country with a doctorate in business in 1971, when he graduated from MU. “We called each other by number until we got above 15, then we stopped,” he says. Photo by H. Scott Hoffman.

In 1972, when Quiester (KWY-ester) Craig began his tenure as dean of the School of Business and Economics at the historically black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, opportunities for African-Americans in traditional business school careers were limited.

In many historically black colleges and universities … business and management were not a priority,” Craig says. “You wanted to focus on areas where [students] had a chance for employment.”

North Carolina A&T, for instance, emphasized courses on typing, writing shorthand or using computers.

[But] the university had the foresight that things have to change, and we want to be ready when they change,” says Craig, PhD ’71, who retired in 2013 after 41 years as dean. “We don’t want it to be said that qualified minority students can’t be found [for these jobs].”

Craig’s proudest achievement was shepherding the transformation into a nationally accredited business school, which required a curriculum overhaul and investment in doctoral-level faculty in business, accounting, finance and marketing.

As with any large change, there were detractors.

My [first] name is sometimes hard to pronounce, but some of the names I heard, there was no way they were mispronouncing my given name,” Craig says.

But the determination he’d gleaned from growing up in segregated Alabama and earning a doctorate in business while supporting a young family saw him through.

Craig says he was the only African-American in most of his business classes, which he started taking to earn post-master’s credit hours and job security at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he taught. But some of his classmates challenged him, asking why he wasn’t in the degree program. Their prompting caused him to enroll. Later, if he was discouraged, they’d lift him up. “I always have respected and appreciated that,” Craig says. “The only way I was able to become dean … was because of that degree.”