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Oklahoma State University

OSU remembers former president Dr. John Roy Campbell

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Edmon Low Library

The Oklahoma State University family is mourning the loss of its 15th president, Dr. John Roy Campbell, who died Nov. 17 at the age of 85. Campbell, a champion for education and the mission of land-grant universities, served as president of OSU from 1988 until 1993. He resigned the presidency to teach in OSU's College of Agriculture and to resume writing.

"Oklahoma State University extends its sympathies to the family of John Campbell," said Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis. "President Campbell guided OSU through its centennial celebration, emphasizing the university's land-grant heritage and its legacy of international outreach. He also focused on students with the development of an honors program and an increase in scholarships."

Dr. John Roy Campbell

Campbell, who grew up in Missouri, was the first member of his immediate family to graduate from high school. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in dairy science in 1955 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He received a master's degree in dairy manufacturing and earned a doctorate in dairy cattle nutrition and physiology. For his service in the military, Campbell received the Meritorious Service Medal from the United States Army.

His celebrated professional career included 17 years of teaching at Missouri. He co-authored two textbooks and in 1972 authored a book on his philosophy of teaching. He was recruited in 1977 as the College of Agriculture associate dean and director of resident instruction by the University of Illinois. In 1983, he was named the dean of the College of Agriculture. 

As the president of OSU, he maintained his focus on students, championed international involvement and interuniversity partnerships, and expanded distance learning. In 1998, he published his fourth book "Reclaiming a Lost Heritage: Land-Grant and Other Higher Education Initiatives for the Twenty-First Century."

He retired from Oklahoma State University in 1999 and returned to Columbia, Missouri. He served on the National University of Natural Medicine's Board of Directors from 1998-2013. Believing there was a 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."

Campbell was preceded in death by his parents and one son. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Eunice Campbell, two daughters and their families as well as numerous extended relatives. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to one of several funds established in Campbell's honor, including Oklahoma State University Foundation for the John Campbell President's Distinguished Scholarship Fund (osugiving.com/JohnCampbellEndowment).

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