Aggies celebrate Dean Craig’s legacy

To conclude a three day celebration for one of the nation’s longest serving deans, family, friends, colleagues, current and former students gathered at the Koury Convention Center on Friday, April 19, to celebrate the retirement of the Dean Craig.

Craig, a certified public accountant, has been the professor of accounting and the dean for the School of Business and Economics since 1972. Within the four decades that he has served at North Carolina A&T, Craig has made many accomplishments, which he will not take credit for alone. It was a team effort.

Under his eye, the business program received a unanimous vote for undergraduate accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International in 1979 and the accounting program became the first program at an HBCU to receive accreditation in 1986.

During his tenure, Craig received numerous awards and honors such as a Distinguished Service Award in 1985 from the National Association of Black Accountants, Administrator of the year from A&T in 1986 and he was a recipient of the Business and Public Citation award for the University of Missouri-Columbia, his alma mater.

In its 93-year history, Craig became the only African-American to serve as the president of the AACSB and was the first African-American president of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society for students in AACSB International accredited business programs.

In latter years, Craig’s excellent service was acknowledged by A&T with the naming of a new academic building that would house the School of Business and Economics, Quiester Craig Hall in 2004.

In recognition of his retirement, Craig was presented many awards and gifts such as a lifetime pass to attend Ph.D. Project’s, which he has been an active member of since 2011, conferences, a Proclamation of Appreciation from Beta Gamma Sigma, The Most Outstanding dean award from Beta Alpha Psi, a memorabilia painting and plaque congratulating his retirement from A&T Academic Affairs, a leather jacket with A&T embroidery from A&T’s Dean’s Council and a crystal plaque with a laser image of the evenings invitation, a watch and a 60 inch Samsung television from the university.

Chancellor Martin described Craig in one word: intimidating.

“Craig has never compromised on his expectations and standards that he has built our school around and that challenges many people because he has done remarkable things for our university. I can’t think of any other person that would have the capacity or stamina to do and sustain 40 years,” said Martin.

Martin wishes Craig nothing but the best and hopes that he will take some time for himself to enjoy life before he reengages as he knows he will.

Former and current students all have memories of Dean Craig. Jini Davis-Thornton, accounting student, class of 91, and son Trevor Thornton a senior business student, both thank Craig for the help he has extended to them. Craig helped Davis-Thornton get a job in 30 minutes, after she had to turn down a job due to a family emergency. He also helped her son, Trevor, by granting him scholarships.

Colleagues, family members, former classmates and students addressed Craig during the celebration with high remarks. Patricia Miller, class of 94, compared Craig to biblical figures like Moses and King Solomon as Dean Emeritus from UNCG compared him to God.

Stories were shared of childhood experiences where Craig showed his eagerness to help and exemplify excellence at an early age. His children, Derrick Craig and Patrice Craig Lilly, shared thoughts of their father and how his work ethic as well as leadership was a reflection of the father he was at home.

Craig gained his experience from his children, who were different from each other, Lilly mentioned.

Chancellor Emeritus at A&T, Edward Fort, gave the keynote address highlighting the many accomplishments of Craig.

Fort said that through Craig’s networking and marketing process, he, his faculty and college have, over the years, raised scholarship money in excess of $10 million.

“He has been the one, as far as I am concerned, that is without match. There is no higher dean nationally,” said Fort. “He has set the march, he has blazed the trail. He has overcome challenges. He has supported the Chancellors in their quest for excellence and he has elongated the spirit of the legacy this university has.”

Fort believes that the Dean has set the pace for school Deans nationally.

Fort stated that because of Craig and his faculty, hundreds of students could now excel in the corporate, legal and manufacturing sectors of this world.

“This man is not only the very epitome of what A&T stands for, but he represents the reality that this is the place where dreamers become achievers from astronauts to presidents,” said Fort.

Craig was overwhelmed and pleased with the turnout of the celebration.

“This is just unbelievable, I can’t believe it. That so many came out, especially in this bad weather and I look around in this group and see many of my students,” said Craig.

Craig mentioned that he has enjoyed the opportunity of seeing the difference he has helped make.

He has watched students come into the school with scholastic records that would make one doubtful and seen them graduate.

Craig feels that the success and achievements were all team success and achievements.

Craig recognized those he felt played a key role in his team like Brenda Ray and Denise Jones, among others that he named and credited.

With him, Craig will take the memories of his students and the success of his alumni.

“My students, our students. My graduates, our graduates. That’s what gives me the greatest joy,” said Craig.

Craig feels that his greatest achievement was to not only see them graduate, but to excel and continue in business and economics.

During this three-day celebration, the School of Business and Economics was able to raise over $1.1 million for the Quiester Craig Scholarship, in part from the Retirement Celebration Scholarship Banquet.

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  • Kimberly Fields, Register Reporter