News & Events

In memoriam: Prof. Bob Neuschel

2/1/2004 - Up until just a few weeks ago, you could find Professor Robert Neuschel stopping to refill his coffee mug at various departments throughout the Kellogg School. Part of this daily ritual involved chatting with those he knew and those he didn’t.

During his coffee rounds, he came to know quite a few people, and they him: the friendly, dapper professor of management and strategy, proudly wearing his military pins, which were a reminder of his service in the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur in World War II.

Professor Neuschel, 84, died on Feb. 9 after several months of declining health.

"The Kellogg School family has lost not only a premier educator, but a beloved leader, colleague and dear friend,” said Dean Dipak C. Jain.

For the last 25 years, Professor Neuschel taught corporate governance and leadership at the Kellogg School and Northwestern University.

In 1983 he designed and taught the first course ever on managerial leadership, which proved to be one of the most sought-after graduate courses. Students soon learned the motto he lived by, imparted by a wise general under whom Neuschel served: “Serve your troops first, so that you can then lead them better.” True to his motto, in 1998 he wrote The Servant Leader: Unleashing the Power of Your People.

Teaching, which was his second profession after a successful business career, came naturally to him. His classes were popular and his students loyal.

"In his years at Kellogg, Bob Neuschel made significant contributions to the Kellogg School’s courses in leadership,” said Robert Magee, Senior Associate Dean: Faculty and Research. “His love of our students, his zest for teaching and his commitment to Kellogg serve as examples for all of us.”

From 1979 to 1992, Professor Neuschel directed the Northwestern University Transportation Center. At the time of his death, he had been serving on a national task force entitled “The World in 2010,” which acts as a think tank to assist the U.S. Secretary of Energy in shaping national energy policies.

Before coming to the Kellogg School, Professor Neuschel made a name for himself at McKinsey & Co., considered one of the world’s top management consulting firms. From 1949 to 1977 he rose through the ranks to become partner and director. While there he worked with 60 of the Fortune 500 companies on all six continents, but “never could find a client in Antarctica,” he is quoted as saying. In the 1970s, he and his late brother, Richard, were the only two siblings ever to be directors at McKinsey at the same time.

While directing a study on the creation of Amtrak for McKinsey in Chicago, Professor Neuschel met Donald P. Jacobs, who was then dean of the Kellogg School. Neuschel was shocked to find that Jacobs didn’t know about the Chicago office of McKinsey and Jacobs was shocked that Neuschel didn’t know about the Kellogg School.

"We eventually rectified that problem,” Dean Emeritus Jacobs said, “and asked Bob to teach here when he left McKinsey. It has been a long and fruitful association between Kellogg and Bob Neuschel. All in all, Kellogg and the generation of students he was involved with owe him a lot of gratitude. We will long remember him.”

Professor Neuschel earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, was a trustee of the North Suburban Mass Transit District, president of the Lake Forest School District and chair of the Lake Forest Symphony, among his many civic contributions. He authored more than 125 articles on a wide range of management subjects and co-authored the book Emerging Issues in Corporate Governance. After six years of active military duty, he retired as a captain in the Army Air Corps.

A memorial service for Professor Neuschel was held on Thursday, February 12, at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.

To make a contribution toward a gift in the name of Professor Neuschel, please contact Professor Robert Gallamore, director of the Transportation Center at Northwestern University.