By Sean McCrae ('96)
I was a timid sophomore when I first knocked on Charles Pringle’s office door. I had never been in any of his classes, but his reputation as an outstanding professor in the JMU Department of Management had preceded him. Now, I was about to ask him to serve as my honors thesis adviser, which was a year-and-half-long job for which he would receive no monetary compensation and virtually no recognition. Luckily for me, he agreed to take the job.
My honors thesis turned into the most enjoyable academic pursuit I ever undertook, and no small part of that was thanks to Dr. Pringle. His insight, humor and genuine interest in me as a scholar and person inspired me through long, solitary hours of research and writing.
Eventually, I did take two of Dr. Pringle’s classes and learned firsthand why he had won so many teaching awards like the 1997 Madison Scholar Award for the College of Business. He was tough but fair, and he filled his lectures with many interesting anecdotes to reach out and capture the interest of all students.
Dr. Pringle went on to write numerous graduate school recommendations for me and serve as a surrogate father figure. He helped me make the difficult decision of which new school to attend and also provided guidance to me on how to continue to grow academically, professionally and personally. Whenever I had an academic or personal issue, I knew that I could knock on his door, and, if necessary, he would literally talk with me for hours about it.
In the acknowledgement section of my thesis, I thanked a lot of people from family and friends to other helpful JMU professors and administrators. This is what I wrote about Dr. Pringle: "Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Pringle, who became my favorite and most admired educator in [my] 17 years of formal schooling, I truly believe that we have developed a valuable lifelong friendship. I definitely could not have done as well on this project if he had not been there at many critical junctures to make suggestions or simply listen to me vent. He is not only an amazing professor and adviser, he is a phenomenal individual."
I am glad to say that Dr. Pringle remains a close friend to this day and we call and e-mail each other from time to time. Most significantly, every time I return to Madison his door is the first on which I want to knock. It's no longer a timid knock, now it is one of excitement as I anticipate greeting an old friend.
College of Business