Gail Bennison Special to the Business Press
On Saturday, May 11, Tarleton State University awarded former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and former first lady Rosie Moncrief honorary doctor of humane letters degrees during commencement ceremonies at Tarleton’s Memorial Stadium in Stephenville. Tarleton is a member of the Texas A&M University System. Dr. Karen Murray, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, presented the Moncriefs to Tarleton’s President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio, describing them as “models of engaged citizenship,” and acknowledging their consistent commitment to the common good. “They rolled out the purple carpet when we arrived, and it stayed out until we left,” says Mike Moncrief. “I was so humbled with this honor, but more deeply touched that they chose to recognize Rosie and her accomplishments. She’s my life partner and my soul mate, and there’s really no way to express my gratitude. It was an emotional time, one that we will never, ever forget.” “When Dr. Dottavio’s letter arrived back in February, I can honestly say it was one of the very few times in my life that I was rendered speechless,” Rosie Moncrief says. “At that time, in the 114-year history of Tarleton, only five honorary doctorates of humane letters had ever been bestowed, and never to a couple. We were so touched that evening we sat in silence and stared at the letter. There were some tears of humble gratitude as well,” she said. Mike Moncrief served as student body president at Tarleton, where he graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. After college, he clerked in the Texas House of Representatives until his election to the House in 1970. Moncrief championed many causes, including drug and alcohol abuse treatment and was named freshman of the year by his colleagues. In 1974, Moncrief was elected Tarrant County judge, serving for 12 years in the office. As county judge, he pushed for the restoration of the courthouse, construction of a city/county jail, and for programs aiding children, the poor and the elderly. In 1990, Moncrief was elected to the state Senate. During 12 years in the position, he was a staunch advocate for mental health services, nursing home reform, domestic violence laws and crime victim compensation. One of his greatest accomplishments was the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Mike Moncrief was elected as 43rd mayor of Fort Worth in 2003 and served until 2011. His many honors include: Who’s Who in American Government, Newsmaker of the Year, Outstanding Young Man of Fort Worth and Outstanding Young Man of Texas. Moncrief served on the board of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation from 1988-1990. In 1974-1975, Moncrief served as president of the Tarleton Alumni Association Board of Directions. In 1977, he was named Distinguished Alumnus by the alumni association. He also was a 1994 Alumni Academic Forum Honoree, and was a charter member of the Tarleton Foundation Board of Directors. Rosie Moncrief is a successful business owner in business and property management. She is a tireless community volunteer, addressing critical issues involving children, health care, senior citizens and quality of life. Among her honors, she has received: the May Owen Award from the Tarrant County Medical Society and the Tarrant County Academy of Medicine, the Community Builder Award, Mary Luibel White Coat Award, Volunteerism Legacy Award, and Health Care Heroes Legacy Award. She served on the Super Bowl XLV host and bid committees. Her board and community service across North Texas includes: Disabled Crime Victims Assistance, Inc., Cancer Care Services, Wednesday’s Child Benefit Corporation, the Fort Worth Promotion and Development Fund, Inc., Child Advocates Advisory Committee, Cook Children’s Medical Center and Harris Development Council. Ray Bonilla, general counsel to the Texas A&M University System, and Regent Judy Morgan, a member of the board of regents, represented the system and the board at commencement. The granting of honorary degrees at Tarleton is to recognize excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, business and philanthropy, and social sciences which exemplify the mission and scope of the Texas A&M University System; to honor meritorious and outstanding service to the academic institution, the State of Texas, the United States, or to humanity at large; or to recognize persons whose lives serve as examples of Tarleton State University’s aspirations for its students. Now in retirement from public office, Mike and Rosie are overseeing investments and properties, and spending time with family. They have two sons, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.