Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson, Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement Gwendolyn Caples, and College of Science, Engineering and Technology Dean Wilbur Walters, Ph.D., unveiled the Brigadier General Robert Crear CSET atrium named after the JSU alumnus in recognition of his lofty accomplishments.
The dedication of the atrium was made possible through a generous $1 million major gift contribution from John Nau, president and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors, L.P., a longtime friend and colleague of Crear. Funds will be used for scholarships for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math, including those enrolled in JSU’s ROTC program.
Brigadier General Robert Crear is flanked by his family during the unveiling ceremony of the CSET atrium bearing his name. (Photo by William Kelly/JSU)
“The naming of this atrium is a testament to the stellar leadership and contributions of Brigadier General Crear and a celebration of his vast legacy at JSU and the imprint he has made in this world,” said Hudson. “We are equally appreciative of the generosity of John Nau, who made this day possible. Together, these men are helping to transform the academic future of our students.”
A native of Vicksburg, Crear spent his 33-year military career on active duty worldwide. He has commanded and led soldiers and civilians at every level while serving in high-level leadership positions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Crear and Nau serve together on the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park Board of Directors.
“Over the years, I have come to respect his vision, integrity, and leadership,” said Nau. “I just wanted to thank him for his leadership because we would not be where we are today with the work at [Vicksburg National Military Park] without him.”
Taking to the podium, Crear recalled, as a youth, using segregated spaces in a Jim Crow South. He talked about developing a growing interest in becoming an officer in the military and a strong desire to attend the United States Military Academy – Westpoint.
Subsequently, after receiving a scholarship, Crear enrolled at Jackson State, where he joined the school’s ROTC program. During his remarks, he recognized President Emeritus John A. Peoples, Jr., Ph.D., for having the vision to establish JSU’s ROTC program.
Brigadier General Robert Crear, a 1975 JSU graduate, shared with guests his inspiration for becoming a military officer and anecdotes about his family. (Photo by William Kelly/JSU)
What Crear appeared to relish most about the day was having his family present. He acknowledged the support from his wife, Reatha Hall, of almost 50 years, and the successful paths of his two daughters and two sons, who graduated from JSU. He also made sure to point out his grandchildren, one who had an ACT score of 31 and was offered a presidential scholarship from Hudson on the spot.
“This is a great moment. I feel jubilant. I have my family here. It almost feels like being back in the military. They have witnessed me in many situations and locations and ceremonies, whether it was promotions or change of command,” said Crear.
“It feels like that, in a way, but it’s so different because I’m able to give back to my alma mater. It’s part of my fiber and the way I was brought up. My parents always told me to never forget where I came from and always give back. So, this is an opportunity to live up to what I was taught to do.”
About Brigadier General Crear
Crear is chairman of Rye Development, the leading developer of new hydroelectric power on existing dams in the United States. Crear is also president and CEO of the Crear Group LLC, a governmental relations and business development consulting firm in his hometown.
Crear’s military assignments included: Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary at the Pentagon; Chief of Staff of the US Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters in Washington DC. He commanded the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, Vicksburg District, Southwest Division, and Mississippi Valley Division. Additionally, he was appointed by President Bush to serve as President of the Mississippi River Commission.
He also served on the ground in Iraq as Commander of Task Force Restore Iraqi Oil (TF RIO), an organization he established, trained and led in 2003. TF RIO was responsible for a first-of-its-kind mission for the Department of Defense, which was first to extinguish all oil fires and then restore the oil infrastructure, production, export capability, and the internal distribution system in Iraq.
General Crear also organized and served as Commander of Task Force Hope, the Corps of Engineers’ $14.6 Billion infrastructure recovery and restoration effort in Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
His numerous military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Staff Identification Badge, and Parachutist Badge.