Dr. Jerry M. Wallace’s last day as Campbell University’s president is June 30, 2015. Throughout the year, Campbell.edu has published a series of interviews with Dr. Wallace in which he has talked about a range of subjects — from his childhood and college experiences to how he ended up as a college president.
As his final day as Campbell’s president approaches, we release the final interview in the six-part series. In that part below, he talks about his hopes for Campbell, what he plans to do next, and if he’ll ever really be able to not work.
- Part 1: On finishing well
- Part 2: On his childhood and college experience
- Part 3: On being a preacher and teacher
- Part 4: On the move to academia leadership
- Part 5: On his time as president
- Part 6: On saying good-bye
- Dr. Wallace on his family — and his family on him
Part 6: On saying good-bye
Those who know you the best have said they wonder if you’ll really be able to not work during your one-year sabbatical before taking on the honorary title and role of chancellor. Will you be able to not work?
Oh, my soul! No, I will not be able to not work. They are right, but I don’t call it work. I will not be able to stop attempting to fulfill my call. I think there will always be work to do if I have the mind to do it as long as I live.
What are your post-presidency plans?
This year I want to do some research on servant leadership. I’m convinced that this is the need of the world. I look forward to looking deeply in that subject and also into ethics. I hope to understand those subjects better and have the opportunity to teach and work with students, perhaps having guest appearances for a lecture or a week or two weeks in some of the courses. I’m looking forward to doing that. I may think about some kind of book.
I also hope I will be able to share the feeling of responsibility and keep the feeling of care for Campbell. Being responsible for Campbell and caring deeply for Campbell are two different things. The university is composed of hundreds of people who do the work of the university and keeps things going, but the deep sense of responsibility is with the president, and that is a pretty heavy weight. I hope that will ease a bit.
But as long as I have mind, I will care for Campbell and love Campbell for all of my days.
How would you like for the Campbell community to remember you?
As the most fortunate and luckiest person to ever come to Campbell University.
I came to Campbell first as a part-time employee and then had the privilege of working in so many different roles at the university — all of which I enjoyed. Then in 2003, after a delightful year in the Divinity School, the trustees gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to become the fourth president of Campbell University.
I’m a very fortunate and lucky person. I’d like to be remembered for the deep gratitude I have for all my years at Campbell. The bottom line is that I’m grateful to God for being good to Campbell and to me all of my life.
What have these last 12 years as Campbell’s president meant to you?
The 12 years I’ve been privileged to serve as president have been the proudest years of my life in terms of being able to follow in the tradition of three wonderful human beings who served Campbell so uniquely. Each president has special gifts to the university in terms of leadership. I believe God provided gifts of leadership.
What I hope I will be remembered for is that we sensed that there were opportunities and we were able to get it together and do some things that were needed and that made us all very grateful and very proud.
Why are you Campbell Proud?
I’m proud about its past. It has a marvelous, marvelous history. As I’ve often said, there are some schools that would die for the J.A. Campbell story – of beginning with 16 students, a prayer and a hymn, and here we are the rest of the story and being such a prominent player in Christina higher education.
I’m proud of our present. We have been privileged to see some exciting things happen at Campbell. The pride goes from that deep, deep feeling of exhilaration when I saw the first football team run on the field after 50 years. The pride comes during every graduation service. The pride comes in some unique things that have happened at Campbell and that have been done here. The pride comes with a law school being established in North Carolina when it hadn’t been done in 35 years, a pharmacy school being established when it hadn’t been done in 40 years, a medical school when it hadn’t been in North Carolina in 35 years. And all of it happening in Buies Creek. I’m very grateful for many, many, many things that have happened during my time at the university.
And what makes me very Campbell Proud is that we have a great future here. I’m convinced the best is yet to be for this university. Brad Creed is a superb choice [to be the fifth president]. He has the right experience, and he has the right heart and the right passion. I have all the confidence that Campbell is in good hands.
So my Campbell pride goes way back 128 years — it’s everything that has happened. And I know we have a great future.
What are your hopes for Campbell’s future?
I’d like to see our first graduates of the medical school practicing medicine across this state, the nation, and the world joining pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, nurses, occupational therapists, and whatever else there will be other health science programs.
I’d like to see our campus improved even more. We have much more to do here — more facilities to be built and other programs at Campbell.
The best is yet to be for this school and we have a bright, bright future. I see in the future God continuing to bless and bring blessings to this school. As I’ve tried to say, I’m confident the Lord will provide to this school as He has from the very first day 128 years ago when this school was first established.
What else would you like to say to the Campbell community?
I want to say to the Campbell alumni and folks all over Harnett County and the world that I look forward to seeing you out there. I look forward to seeing continuing good news from you. I look forward to sharing days with you and seeing the good things that happen by the graduates who serve across the world.
The Lord will provide. “Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge God” the provider of this good school, and I’m confident He will direct our path.