In Memoriam: Howard T. Prince II | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Howard T. Prince II, a longtime LBJ professor and retired brigadier general, died on May 19, 2021 from a rare form of blood cancer. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and family. A burial will take place at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a memorial service will be held in Belton, Texas, where he grew up.

Prince, a clinical professor who held the Loyd Hackler Endowed Chair in Ethical Leadership here at the LBJ School, was known across the country for his own personal leadership and for building programs in leadership studies. In its 2010 profile of Prince, The Alcalde wrote: "There is perhaps no greater expert on leadership development in the country. No one has more profoundly altered the character and leadership training of the modern United States Army."

Prince's belief in ethical leadership was rooted in his experiences as a highly decorated U.S. Army combat veteran in Vietnam. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at The University of Texas at Austin before returning to his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where as the youngest colonel in the Army he was appointed to lead its new Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. He also played an important role in integrating the military academy to include women among its students.

After serving as the founding dean and professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies, he returned to the Forty Acres and joined the LBJ School in 1999. Under the leadership of then-Dean Ed Dorn, he became the director of the Center for Ethical Leadership and a faculty member who ultimately taught nearly 900 students during his tenure. Early in the development of the undergraduate Bridging Disciplines Programs, he volunteered to serve as a member of the faculty steering committee and in 2006 was asked to develop and teach a capstone course on leadership and ethics for the Leadership and Ethics BDP. He taught the course every year until his retirement in 2019.

The 2010 Alcalde article explored one of the things that made Prince's teaching so special:

"On the first day of classes, Prince takes his LBJ School students on a thought experiment. Let's say you've won a prestigious Presidential Management Internship in Washington, DC, and your boss calls you in. She has a special project for you. She wants you to devise a strategy for the U.S. Postal Service to get out of the red and wants you to look at how to increase revenues by offering payday loans.

Prince asks for ideas, and the students throw themselves into the project, offering some basic ones at first but gradually developing more sophisticated and ambitious plans. Imagining their fake internships on the line and their fake boss offering them a chance to impress, the students bring all their ambition and creativity to the task. At the end, Prince makes his point. 'I heard a lot of great ideas, but how come no one asked whether the postal service should be raising money on the backs of poor people? The first step in ethical leadership,' he says, 'is recognizing when you're facing an ethical dilemma.'"

Prince connected the LBJ School to many colleges and universities in the U.S. as well as other countries, notably several universities in Mexico, through the Hatton W. Sumners Student Leadership Conference that he organized and hosted annually for 16 years. The Sumners Foundation supported the conference with grants of more than $2.8 million during those years. Over 2,600 participants have attended one of these Conferences, and Prince selected and trained almost 200 UT graduate students, mostly from LBJ to serve in key roles during each conference.

In addition to his leadership courses and programs at UT, Prince had a major impact in developing leaders for health care systems and police organizations across the nation. He lectured widely in the U.S. and other countries on leadership and designed and taught a college-level leadership course for police organizations as part of the national response to Rodney King's beating by police officers in Los Angeles. This culminated in teaching a college-credit leadership course with Professor Michael Lauderdale of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work for the Austin Police Department at the request of former Austin Chief of Police Stan Knee. Graduates of the course, which was taught for seven years, include UT Chief of Police David Carter and many senior officers serving in the APD.

The many honors Prince received during his years at LBJ include the John Flanagan Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association (2009) and West Point's highest award for its alumni, the Distinguished Graduate Award (2006). He was especially proud of awards given for excellence upon nomination by students, including the Texas Exes Excellence in Teaching Award (2002) and The Eyes of Texas Excellence Award for outstanding contributions to student life (2008).

Howard Prince's impact is endless. Our hearts and minds are with his family and loved ones.

 

Comments

Howard was a quiet but impressive man with great moral authority, who always led by example. I met him soon after he arrived at the LBJ School, and only many years later (after reading Mark Bowden's book about Hue, 1968) learned of his heroism and leadership as a young officer during the Vietnam war. When asked about it, he was willing to provide his perspectives on that unfortunate conflict in quiet conversation. I count myself lucky to have known him.

Howard was a gentleman, a scholar, and a true hero. He served two tours in Vietnam, where he earned two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for Valor. During a long convalescence from his second injury, Howard completed a PhD in psychology at UT, then returned to his alma mater to create West Point's first academic program in leadership. He moved to Austin to retire, but responded to the call to help create the LBJ School's Center for Ethical Leadership. He made a lasting impression on thousands of students in formal UT classes and in the summer leadership conference that he created. Almost every semester, he lectured about leadership to my Defense Policy students. His talks reflected his scholarship and his military experience; and he spoke with the passion of someone who knows the horrors of war. Howard was an extraordinary man -- smart, brave, devoted. I feel fortunate to have known and worked with him.

Dr. Prince was a great mentor to me. He introduced me to the leadership field and helped me more clearly make the connection between ethics and leadership. I am now the Director of a Leadership Education and Development Office at a university and I teach an Ethics and Leadership course. I always infuse ethics into our leadership work and much of what I do was inspired by Dr. Prince. His impact continues to flow out from his years of great work. I am a better person from having known him and I will continue to spread the messages that he taught me. Thank you Dr. Prince.

Howard demonstrated leadership qualities even before his twelfth birthday. By unanimous vote we elected him captain of our Little League baseball team in Giessen, West Germany. With brother Dale we played “catch” during lunch at the Butzbach school for US dependents. Howard tossed the ball to Dale, Dale lobbed it to me then I fired a fast ball to Howard. We maintained this routine until the bell rang. I glanced over to Dale waiting for him to catch the ball then throw it to me as I was the “keeper” of our only ball. Kurlangwa! The ball struck me square in the nose and blood flowed freely. Here he was, already teaching “attention to detail”, some seventy years back.
George Dill Temple Texas (aka “Pickles”)

In his mentorship of generations of leaders, he had one particular stand out, Robert W. Cone, later an Army 4-star, and also struck by cancer too early. Bob Cone took Howard's advice and attended the University of Texas. Bob then went on to teacher leadership at West Point under Howard Prince. I later worked for Bob Cone who was a mentor of mine until the day he died. Bob inspired me to write about mentorship and it is still the core of my work today. I was honored to meet Howard when I moved to Austin in 2011. The legacy of Howard leadership is long and extends generation. His influence will be felt long after he is gone.

Dr. Prince was a mentor and a friend. He gave me great advice on so many projects from my dissertation to my consulting and teaching. It was on his urging that I created my leadership consultancy and his advice and recommendations which led to my first clients and contacts. More importantly to me, he was also a friend. Someone always willing to listen and support those he cared for. Dr. Prince leaves a legacy which will continue to shape leaders and one worth emulating. I am fortunate to have known him.

I met Howard Prince 20 years ago through being asked by a Longhorn cousin to serve on a panel at a conference for leadership educators (LBJ School) at which Dr. Prince allowed 10 Aggie undergraduate student leaders to attend, the only undergraduate students at the conference. This forged a 16 year professional relationship through the Hatton Sumners Undergraduate Student Leadership Conference, which he so beautifully orchestrated with an amazing team each year. Dr. Prince was my “annual” mentor during that time, reaffirming in me ethics that run deeper than university systems and time itself. A true loss on this earth of his presence and an example of true humility in living a life as a leader. Being humble was and remains a distinction in his example. Gig ‘em and Hook ‘em Horns, Dr. Prince.

I first met then-Major Prince when I was a Cadet at West Point in 1975. He had a profound impact on many of us...not just at USMA, but beyond as officers. I am so glad we stayed in touch over the years. America has lost a great son.

When my husband Smythe ( Woodie) Wood & I were at USMA from July 1974-jan. 1978, Howard & family lived across the street from us. His stepdaughter, Debbie, often babysat for us. Howard & my husband were both Majors teaching in Office of Military Leadership (OML), which later became Office of Behavioral Science & Leadership (BS&L). When Howard first got there, the head COL of OML asked Howard how attached was he to his mustache. Meaning he wanted Howard to shave his mustache off. No teachers at USMA had a mustache at the time & were “encouraged” not to have one. Howard had served and was wounded in Vietnam & still limped from his wounds. Howard never shaved his mustache! He & Woodie spent many hours in our backyard discussing USMA, OML, leadership ideas & politics . I still have & use a pen holder made of Cyprus wood that Howard made & gave us. Sadly, I had not talked to Howard in the last couple of years. A wonderful, quiet spoken man.
RIP Howard!!

Howard lived a life of service. In all of my interactions with him, he was gracious, studious, giving, thoughtful, articulate, and focused. He shared his thoughts with my students on more than one occasion. His contributions to the International Leadership Association allowed others to learn more about his scholarship. The world is a better place for him having been here. He will be missed.

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