Future Generations lost a friend when John Campbell passed away in November of 2018. He encouraged us to take risks; specifically to push against the limits of accreditation policies to achieve the true purposes of learning. Although no longer physically here to encourage us, his message endures. “Do the right thing,” he said, “then explain you broke the rules because not doing so would have been a worse thing.”
We first became acquainted with John a decade and a half ago when he came as a member of the Higher Learning Commission accreditation team, sent here to inspect whether Future Generations was meeting the requirements of higher education and deserved accreditation. His job was to ‘check the boxes’ and make sure we were following the rules. What set John apart was that in checking the boxes, he was searching for achieving the higher purposes of the regulations.
John spoke at length with our president, Daniel C. Taylor, and the message he gave was that to achieve learning requires going forward, building on the resources present in the place. The place of Future Generations University is the world, with students from around the world who learn from the world … and most importantly shape their local worlds into better places. John recognized the potential in our idea, which was new at the time, and remained in contact with the school until his death.
Please join us in remembering John’s remarkable life with the following account, kindly provided by his family.
John Roy Campbell, PhD, DSC, DLitt
June 14, 1933-November 17, 2018
John was born near Goodman, Missouri and grew up on a small farm. He was the first of his immediate family to graduate from high school, and credited the receipt of a scholarship from the Sears Roebuck Corporation as the impetus to enroll in the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU). There he earned a B.S. with honors in Dairy Science from MU College of Agriculture in 1955, working three part-time jobs while doing so in order to fund his education.
Also during this time, a friend introduced him to Eunice Vieten, who shared his background of having grown up on a dairy farm. The two married and remained happily so until his passing, raising three children and later becoming grandparents along the way.
After receiving a fellowship to pursue Master of Science degree in Dairy Manufacturing, he served one year in the Army reserves, having been in the ROTC during college. Following that, he served two years of Active Duty in the Army’s Seventh Artillery. After discharge from the Army, he returned to Columbia to pursue his PhD in dairy cattle nutrition and physiology at MU. He continued serving as a member of the National Guard Army Reserves Field Artillery for the next 22 years, rising to the level of Lieutenant Colonel and Battery Commander of his unit. In 1983, John received The Meritorious Service Medal from the United States Army for his service.
Following completion of his PhD in 1960, John joined the MU Dairy Science faculty where he quickly rose through the ranks to become a full professor in 1968. He received nearly every award available to faculty members during his 17 years teaching there.
John taught several courses relating to dairy husbandry and animal sciences, and co-authored two textbooks. He viewed students as “our nation’s most valuable resource.” He wrote his book In Touch With Students: A Philosophy for Teachers (1972) to share his teaching philosophies with others.
In 1977, John was recruited by the University of Illinois as College of Agriculture Associate Dean and Director of Resident Instruction. In this new role, he demonstrated a zeal for the land-grant philosophy of higher education – providing educational and career opportunities for the sons and daughters of the working classes. He gained support from private individuals and corporations to establish a merit-based scholarship program to help recruit, recognize and support high-caliber students to pursue careers in agriculture, home economics and related professional fields. He selected the name Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) Agricultural Merit Scholarship Program in honor of one of the initial proponents of land-grant universities. The program has been highly successful with alumni holding prominent positions in industry and at universities.
In 1983, John was named Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois. Innovation, dedication and cooperation with people, both within and outside the College of Agriculture, were hallmarks of his deanship. His leadership was central to the College obtaining $61.2 million for construction of five new facilities. Colleagues have referred to his time at Illinois as “a golden era.”
John was appointed the fifteenth President of Oklahoma State University (OSU) on August 1, 1988 and served until 1993. At OSU he continued his student focus, championed international involvement and inter-university partnerships, and expanded distance learning. He resigned as OSU president in 1993 to teach in the OSU College of Agriculture and resume writing. In 1998, he published his fourth book Reclaiming a Lost Heritage: Land-Grant and Other Higher Education Initiatives for the Twenty-First Century, which has been used in teaching Honors Courses and educating others on the heritage of the land-grant system.
John retired from Oklahoma State University in 1999 and returned to Columbia, Missouri to take aim at new goals and opportunities. During this time, he served as a Consultant-Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission/North Central Association and on the National University of Natural Medicine’s Board of Directors from 1998-2013. He also continued presenting lectures for numerous organizations. Having viewed the need for changes to increase societal perceptions of higher education, he wrote a novel titled Dry Rot in the Ivory Tower: A Case for Fumigation, Ventilation, and Renewal of the Academic Sanctuary, and another textbook, Companion Animals: Their Biology, Care, Health, and Management.
Throughout his professional career, John demonstrated a caring attitude toward and sincere interest in students, their careers, and personal lives. He had the privilege of teaching more than 12,000 students and published more than 100 papers. He accomplished much and left a legacy at each of the universities where he served.
He loved to tell stories and share the knowledge he had gained through his many journeys and discussions with people from “all walks of life” and was quick to extend congratulations to others on their accomplishments. At this time of loss, a smile comes to mind envisioning John sharing stories with those who preceded him in “graduating to heaven.”