Robert Rhodes, longtime professor at TCU, dies of COVID complications

TCU photo from istock

Robert Rhodes, JD., professor of professional practice in management and leadership at the Neeley School of Business at TCU, passed away on Aug. 14, 2020, due to complications related to COVID-19, the university announced.

“This loss is devastating for me to relay and to bear, as I know it is for so many of our students, faculty and staff who admired Rob so much,” said Daniel Pullin, the John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

From law attorney to much-lauded professor, Dr. Rhodes taught law in the Neeley School of Business for more than 30 years.

“Rob Rhodes was a professor’s professor–a master of the craft. He was a giant in the classroom and in life, which he lived so well,” Pullin said. “No one invested as deeply as he did in his students and the leaders he challenged them to be.”

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He was awarded Honors Professor of the Year in 2020 by the John V. Roach Honors College; Neeley Distinguished Professor in 2018, Top 40 Undergraduate Business Professor by Poets & Quants in 2017, Best MBA Professor seven times, EMBA Outstanding Faculty numerous times, Alumni Professor of the Year by Neeley alumni in 2008; and the Michael and Susan Baer Award for Outstanding Mentoring in 2008.

“Dr. Rhodes was my MBA Business Law professor and our European Union class advisor for our International trip (Cologne, Germany 2000-2001),” said Rod Pekurney, a member of the Professional MBA class of 2001. Pekurney said Rhodes changed the direction of his life. “Dr. Rhodes expanded my view of the world.  This change of view has passed on to my children, and I suspect will pass on to their children. His impact on me will live on well beyond my life. 


“Dr. Rhodes ended his lectures with ‘Now what are you going to do with this lecture?’  In other words, the real power of our education was not the recall of information for some test, but instead, what nugget of information did I pick up on AND will I accept the responsibility to DO SOMETHING MORE with it!!  I still remember this point in my everyday life 19 years after my Dr. Rhodes classes and I try very hard to accept the responsibility Dr. Rhodes insisted on,” he said.

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Robert Rhodes in class. photo courtesy TCU

Christian I. Holston, a member of the Executive MBA Class of 2019, was daddened for his wife, son and co-workers and also for “all of the future students who won’t have the same privilege of learning from him that I enjoyed.”

“You never really believe the trope about educators who change your life until it happens to you,” Holston said in an email. “I spent less than 40 hours with Dr. Rhodes, but in that time he taught me not just a bit about law – for that was his job – but also how to grab a room by its lapels and make it take notice, how to challenge every argument – even and especially the good ones – with an opposing perspective, how to use a masterful command of language and story and, at times, raw decibels to impart wisdom, and how to do it all with a depth of humility and a heartfelt desire to always do better.”

Rhodes received a Master of Law in International Trade and Finance from Tulane University, where he graduated among the top three. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Baylor University, where he graduated No. 8 in his class. He practiced law until 1984, when he came to TCU.

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Information on a memorial service will be released soon.