July 15, 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes, 48 seconds

Whether through service in the military or his years as a revered professor at the University of West Georgia, Dr. Joseph “Harrison” McCraw Jr. has always put others first.

Dr. Joseph “Harrison” McCraw Jr.

Now, through an incredible life estate donation of $1 million to UWG, McCraw is ensuring a bright future for his former department in the Richards College of Business and for students in need. McCraw said the choice to offer such an extraordinary donation to UWG was an easy one.

“UWG is my home base, and it’s only second to my faith,” he said. “The university has many wonderful units, but it is greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve come a long way over the years, and I truly feel honored to have been a small part of it.”

As for aiding student success through philanthropic means, McCraw said it is the right path to take when one is in the position to do so. 

“I don’t think people realize what a capacity they have to make a difference in the lives of students,” McCraw said. “Some students don’t have the financial means to afford college, and I believe deeply we should boost them and offer aid however we can. If we can help them over the financial hump or otherwise, we need to do so.”

UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly said he was thrilled and honored that McCraw chose to make such an important and substantial contribution to the university. 

“I was personally humbled by this remarkable gift from such a celebrated and beloved former professor at the University of West Georgia,” Kelly said. “This endowment will help ensure our Department of Accounting and Finance has additional resources that will serve to build upon the legacy of excellence and selflessness for which Dr. McCraw is cherished.”

Born in Andalusia, Alabama, in March 1945, McCraw received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Auburn University and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. While at Auburn, McCraw was a freshman fullback under the legendary coach, Vince Dooley. He continued to contribute as an offensive player for his sophomore and junior years (1964-65) and was moved to linebacker for his senior year. 

L. to R.: Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice president for University Advancement, CEO of UWG Foundations; Nichole Fannin '05 '10, executive director of development; Dr. Joseph “Harrison” McCraw Jr.; Dr. Brendan B. Kelly, UWG president
 L. to R.: Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice president for University Advancement, CEO of UWG Foundations; Nichole Fannin '05 '10, executive director of development; Dr. Joseph “Harrison” McCraw Jr.; Dr. Brendan B. Kelly, UWG president

McCraw is a much-decorated veteran. Upon graduation in 1967, he served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, having received an ROTC commission. He was then assigned to the 988th Military Police Company at Ft. Benning, Columbus, Georgia. His company saw duty during the March 1968 civil disturbances in Baltimore, Maryland. At the end of his first year of service, he volunteered for Vietnam (1968) where he spent 10.5 months. 

During his first eight months, he escorted convoys near the Cambodian border and within the Michelin Rubber Plantation. McCraw was promoted in-country to the rank of first lieutenant and also served as provost marshal for the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, during his last few months in Vietnam. 

“I was extremely patriotic, a quality I shared with my mother,” McCraw said. “I was willing to put my life on the line. I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to join the military does so. The leadership skills you develop are tremendous.”

Having loved and played sports throughout high school and college, McCraw’s initial ambition was to become a college football coach. In fact, he was an economics major who failed his first accounting class. After refocusing his academic mindset, however, the field of accounting became his passion. 

“I love the process of working with students,” McCraw said. “I may have wanted to be a college football coach, but being a professor was the next best thing.”

Having taught at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (two years), and Presbyterian College (four years) - where he was offered tenure and promotion - McCraw began a 26-year career at UWG (then West Georgia College) in 1985 as an assistant professor of Business Administration in the Department of Accounting and Finance. 

Throughout his career, McCraw wrote numerous articles published in scholarly journals, including the Accounting Educators’ Journal, the Real Estate Review, the Journal of Business Ethics, the Journal of College Teaching and Learning, the Journal of Diversity Management and the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Journal before retiring from the university in 2011.

Dr. Ron Colley, chair and professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance, said McCraw was an outstanding professor, colleague and friend, and he isn't surprised to learn of his incredible legacy gift.  

A young Dr. Joseph “Harrison” McCraw Jr. playing footballl

“I have fond memories of working with Dr. McCraw,” Colley said. “He strived to provide quality instruction and to provide guidance for his students through involvement in the Accounting Club, the Accounting Honor Society and other organizations. He was also actively involved in the department and provided its members with support and assistance. Dr. McCraw served in an exemplary manner as an accounting educator and colleague.”

The endowment made possible by McCraw’s generosity is broken down into three legacy gifts that will establish three different funds: the Harrison McCraw Endowed Professors in Accounting Fund, the Harrison McCraw Accounting Fund to provide for faculty and departmental needs, and the Harrison McCraw Accounting Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Faye McIntyre, professor of marketing and former dean of the Richards College of Business and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise, praised McCraw for his kindness, intelligence and generosity.

“Dr. McCraw was a valuable member of the Richards College of Business faculty,” she said. “He was an excellent instructor and mentored many students outside the classroom as well. Beyond his teaching abilities, Harrison was a wonderful colleague, always willing to help others and offer a kind word of encouragement or humor. His gift will be transformative for our accounting programs, and we are honored he would be so generous.”

For more information about how you can support UWG through an endowment, scholarship or annual giving, please visit the UWG Give West page.