The MSU College of Business is saddened by the loss of COB Executive Advisory Board member and Mississippi State University's 2018 National Alumnus of the Year Dr. R.L. Qualls, who passed away on Sunday, February 15, 2021. He was 91.
He graduated from Mississippi State University, earning a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. R.L. received his Ph.D. in Economics from Louisiana State University before completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt University. He was a proud veteran having served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.
During his extraordinary career, R.L. served in numerous leadership positions including: President and Chairman of the Board of the University of the Ozarks; Director of the Department of Finance and Administration and cabinet secretary in former Governor Bill Clinton's administration; Executive Vice President of Worthen Banking Corporation; President and CEO of Baldor Electric Company; Lead Independent Director for Bank of the Ozarks; and Co-Chairman of the Taylor Companies, an investment banking and mergers acquisitions firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. In recognition of his accomplishments in business, he directed the Executive in Residence programs at University of the Ozarks, St. Gregory's University, and the University of North Alabama.
He served the community as President of both the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club in Clarksville, Ark.; Chairman of the Arkansas Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; and Trustee at Oklahoma City University, University of the Ozarks, and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Board. R.L was a 32nd-degree Master Mason of Burnsville, Miss.
As a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and a lifelong Bulldog, Mississippi State University was near and dear to his heart. He served as Chairman of the Development Committee of the Foundation Board and served on the Executive Advisory Board of the College of Business where he helped establish the Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach. One of the greatest honors of his life was being named the 2018 Mississippi State University National Alumnus of the Year for his distinctive achievements in business, economics, education, industry, and politics.
R.L. is preceded in death by his family, Wes, Mattie, and Letha Qualls; and wife, Carolyn Morgan; and stepson, Collin Andrew Pyron. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Ann Qualls; daughter, Stephanie Elizabeth Qualls and family; stepdaughter, Kathleen Martin Phillips and family; stepson, John Patrick Martin and family; and stepdaughter, Maureen Frances Martin and family.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no reception at this time. A memorial service will be planned at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Our House, Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, or a charity of your choice.