Southeast remembers Dr. Gerald McDougall
Many who knew Dr. Gerald McDougall remember him as a kind-spirited man who dedicated more than two decades of his life as dean of Southeast Missouri State University's Harrison College of Business and a pioneer in supporting the development of creative entrepreneurial endeavors.
A Celebration of Life event was held on Friday, March 10, in Southeast's Robert A. Dempster Hall atrium for students, staff, faculty, family and friends to honor the life and legacy of McDougall, who died on Sunday, March 5, of natural causes.
When Karen McDougall talked about her late husband, she expressed how kind and compassionate he was, not only toward his family, but also to his students.
"He wanted what was best for that person," she said. "He wanted that for his students what was best for them. I think he went out of his way. I've been hearing stories about letters for how he helped me to get into a doctorate program."
Like Karen McDougall, Kristin Grupas, the youngest daughter of McDougall's, described her father as being a man that loved the university and his students.
"I remember him really being open to students," Grupas said. "We had students over to our house before. We had students attend our Thanksgiving dinners, if somebody didn't have a place to go."
The way McDougall treated his students is the same way Bryn Wilson, oldest daughter of the McDougall's said he treated her and Grupas.
"He wanted us to do our best and we were always told do your best and I'm awfully proud of you," Wilson said.
McDougall's unwavering love and support for his students is true as Harman Malhi, a graduate student in the Harrison College of Business, shared the effect he had on her.
"I got to know him personally and he always had students as his first priority," Malhi said. "Even in his different decisions that he had to take as an administrator, he always put students' interests as the foremost motive."
Positive affirmations such as leaving sticky notes or emails is something McDougall's students and colleagues said he did to praise them for their accomplishments.
Malhi recalled receiving a thank-you note from him by email the Friday before he died congratulating her on her win in the Show-Me MBA Competition.
"The Friday before this happened, I actually received a thank-you card from him in my email and I cried," Malhi said. "The Monday when I got back home and knowing that he passed away, I was like, 'this is the last thing that he sent.' He never missed a chance to appreciate his staff, his students in any way possible."
As a dean at Southeast for 24 years, it is clear McDougall had a lot of experience as a leader of a department. With McDougall's extensive work as a dean he was able to shed knowledge and share advice to his colleagues.
Dr. Alisha Youngblood Ortiz, interim chair of the Department of Accounting since August, said McDougall was all ears whenever she went into his office to confide in him about her new leadership role.
"I started as interim chair back for the department back in August and I went by his office to ask him questions almost every day. Sometimes I would go and vent," Ortiz said. "Early on I apologized to him, I said I'm sorry for coming into your office complaining and venting about things. He just smiled and said 'When I was first moving up through the ranks I needed somebody who I knew could go into their office, say anything I needed to say and get it off my chest.'"
Before McDougall's death, he was planning to retire from Southeast in June.
McDougall served as the dean of Southeast's Harrison College of Business and as the associate provost for Extended Learning. During his stint as dean, the Harrison College of Business received its business accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. He also oversaw many other major accomplishments in the Harrison College of Business.
Lastly, McDougall supported the developing and foundation of Catapult Creative House, the Douglas C. Green Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Center for Business and Economic Research.