It is a great pleasure to announce that John Qualy, chair of the Dean’s Strategic Leadership Council for HES, is a 2019 recipient of a prestigious Mizzou Faculty-Alumni Award. These awards recognize distinguished alumni not only for their professional achievements but also for their service to Mizzou, emphasizing the critical role that alumni play in promoting the university. In the words of our dean, Sandy Rikoon, Mr. Qualy’s award is “an appropriate capstone to a career that has included more than twenty-five years of service to MU and the creation of a unique legacy at Mizzou.”
Mr. Qualy attended Mizzou in the late 1960s and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. According to Larry McMullen, the alumni advisor for the house, Mr. Qualy’s charisma was evident early on. “John was a leader from his start at Mizzou. Whatever campus need called, John was there with boundless enthusiasm!” he said. Mr. Qualy graduated from the School of Journalism in 1970, but after an internship with Northwestern Mutual his senior year, he followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather began working for the firm upon graduation.
He started out small, as a financial representative working out of his apartment in Columbia, MO, but his career expanded quickly from there. By 1973, Mr. Qualy started a “scratch” Northwestern district office in Columbia and expanded his operation from 1 to 8 financial representatives. With this office, “Columbia was on the Northwestern map as a productive organization,” Mr. Qualy said. “It is still a thriving business today, which gives me great satisfaction.” Former HES dean Bea Smith recalls him fondly from those days: “I’ve known John since he was a smart, very effective young insurance agent in Columbia,” she said. “It has been fun to watch his success build over the years, and it comes as no surprise – those seeds of success were sprouting at a very young age.”
Mr. Qualy’s demonstrated success in Columbia drew the attention of the St. Louis office for Northwestern Mutual, and he was appointed a Managing Partner there in 1990. Under his leadership, the St. Louis office grew from 46 financial representatives to 198 in 2010, and they led Northwestern Mutual in sales in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He also developed the company’s largest College Internship Program from 1992-2002. “Helping people achieve their goal by educating and serving others was our purpose,” Mr. Qualy said. “Leading Northwestern Mutual was our result.”
A key qualification for the Faculty-Alumni awards, however, is service to Mizzou, and Mr. Qualy is a true leader in that realm. After 41 years with Northwestern Mutual, Mr. Qualy retired in 2011, but he continues to contribute his time and energy to Mizzou, especially in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, the academic home of his profession. As a financial professional, Mr. Qualy serves on the Dean’s Strategic Leadership Council, which creates strategies to support the programs and department in HES, and he has guided the council as chairperson since its formation in 2014. “I want to help HES grow to be able to serve each and every student. Someday, some of them will take our place and do even more,” he said.
Mr. Qualy had contributed to programs at Mizzou across campus, but his distinguished service to HES is certain to have a lasting impact. Tootie Burns, current president of the HES Alumni Board, sums it up best: “John is a true leader, an asset to MU, and a dear friend to HES.”
John Qualy (right) being presented with an MAA Faculty-Alumni Award by Todd McCubbin (left), Associate Vice Chancellor of Alumni Relations
(From left) Dean Rikoon, John Qualy and Chancellor Cartwright at the HES Graduation in December 2018, where John served as keynote speaker
John Qualy (back row, 2nd from left), along with the rest of the HES Dean’s Strategic Leadership Council, where John serves as chairman for the group