Remembering Former Dean C. Warren Neel, 1937-2023

March 28, 2023

C. Warren Neel, former dean of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Business Administration (now the Haslam College of Business), passed away on March 23, 2023. He was 85.

James A. Haslam II and C. Warren Neel
James A. Haslam II and C. Warren Neel

Neel joined the college’s Department of Management in 1969, where his research focused on corporate policy. His work appeared in numerous management journals and several of the nation’s leading newspapers. He became an associate dean in 1974 and served as dean of the college from 1977 to 2002.

During his tenure at UT, he also served in the cabinets of two Tennessee governors, first as commissioner of economic security for Lamar Alexander and later as commissioner of finance and administration for Don Sundquist. In the latter role, he was the governor’s chief financial officer for the Tennessee state government, managing a budget of more than $20 billion. When Alexander was appointed U.S. secretary of education, Neel served on his transition team, focusing on the country’s post-secondary education.

In 2003, Neel returned to UT and established the Corporate Governance Center. He served as the center’s director from 2003 to 2013, and it was renamed the Neel Corporate Governance Center in his honor in 2014.

Joseph Carcello, Randy Boyd, and C. Warren Neel
Joseph Carcello, Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Director of the Neel Corporate Governance Center; Randy Boyd, UT System President; C. Warren Neel

Over the course of his career, Neel served on the boards of nine publicly and privately traded companies. In those roles, he chaired a variety of committees, including audit, compensation, nominating and governance, in addition to chairing special committees related to fraud audits, acquisitions, mergers and the sale of the business.

“Warren Neel was a blessing to all who had the privilege of knowing him,” said Stephen L. Mangum, dean of Haslam and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair. “He was an educator through and through. He loved learning and he enjoyed exchanging perspectives with others.”

Terry L. Neal, Richard L. Townsend Accounting Chair, head of Haslam’s  Department of Accounting and Information Management and current director of the Neel Center, said, “Warren spent decades of his life working to improve the world by serving UT, the state of Tennessee and numerous corporate boards. Through the center that bears his name, we continue to build upon his mission of conducting and disseminating quality research around corporate governance.”

C. Warren Neel with his family at Neel Corporate Governance Center dedication
C. Warren Neel with his family at the dedication of the Neel Corporate Governance Center

Lauren Cunningham, Keith Stanga Professor of Accounting at Haslam and director of research for the Neel Center, said, “He made an indelible impact on corporate governance and higher education. His leadership has left a lasting legacy that will continue to resonate for many years to come.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist,