After decades of leadership in higher education, Dr. Bill Muse gives back to his alma mater

The Northwestern State University Foundation announces a new endowed scholarship that honors a distinguished graduate, Dr. William “Billy” Muse of Cincinnati, Ohio, an alumnus of the university who was president of the University of Akron from 1984-1992, Auburn University from 1992-2001 and chancellor of East Carolina University from 2001-2003.   

The Dr. William “Billy” Muse Scholarship will be presented to an undergraduate majoring in business. The student must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better.  

“The ideal recipient would be a student who has an excellent academic record—GPA and test scores—and who comes from a low-income family,” Muse said, adding that his involvement on campus opened many doors for him. His way of giving back is in providing opportunities for bright students from low-income backgrounds the means to earn an education.  

Muse was born in Mississippi and earned a degree in accounting at Northwestern State in 1960, followed by an MBA and Ph.D. in business and administration from the University of Arkansas.  He taught at Georgia Tech and Ohio University and served as dean of the business schools at Appalachian State, the University of Nebraska and Texas A & M, where he was also vice chancellor. After Texas A & M, he served terms as president at Akron, Auburn and East Carolina.  In 2007, he worked with Michigan State University on a Kettering Foundation Fellowship.  

Muse served as the international president of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, chairman of the Akron Regional Development Board, director of National City Bank, president of the Southeastern Conference, director of Southtrust Bank, the Alabama Power Company and the American Cast Iron Pipe Company.  He has also served as vice chair of the United Way Foundation of Great Cincinnati and sits on the board of the TKE Education Foundation. He is an elected member of the National Issues Forums Institute.  

When Muse graduated from Delhi High School, his teachers helped him apply for a T.H.  Harris Scholarship to attend NSU, where he played baseball for two years, was business manager and later sports editor for the Current Sauce, served as president of the Association of Men Students and joined Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.  As a senior, he was vice president of the student council and a member of Blue Key.   

Prior to graduation, Muse was being recruited by CPA firms and planned to go to work, but Joe Johnson, his mentor and faculty advisor in the School of Business, persuaded him to meet with a representative from the University of Arkansas who was interviewing candidates for graduate school. The dean who interviewed Muse was so impressed he nominated Muse for a fellowship that paid his tuition, housing and other expenses for three years.  

“I won that fellowship, and it paved my way into my career in higher education,” said Muse, now 84, reflecting on his 40-year career in higher ed, including 20 years serving as a university president.  

“My years at Northwestern were definitely formative in preparing me for a career that was very meaningful tome and allowed me to have some important leadership positions,” Muse said. “I would never have been able to accomplish that if not for the excellent education and leadership development that I had at Northwestern. 

Friends who wish to contribute to the scholarship can do so at