Gerard Campbell

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The Rev. Gerard John Campbell, S.J. (August 26, 1919[1] – August 9, 2012)[1][2] was the 45th President of Georgetown University serving from 1964 to June 17, 1968. He succeeded the Rev. Edward B. Bunn, S.J., as Georgetown’s president.

Campbell was born in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, on August 26, 1919,[1] the son of Nicholas J. Campbell and Claire Zimmerman of Monongahela, Pennsylvania.[3] In 1939, Campbell entered the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits.[1] He was ordained as a Jesuit Catholic priest in 1951.[1]

Campbell completed a bachelor's degree in Latin and his licentiate's degree in philosophy from West Baden College, a now defunct Jesuit seminary in Indiana.[1] He studied a "Jesuit curriculum" at Loyola University Chicago, which included theology, history, science and literature.[1] In 1957, Campbell received a doctorate in history from Princeton University.[1] He initially taught history at Loyola University Maryland until he joined Georgetown University as vice president in 1963.[1]

Father Campbell held the post of executive vice president at Georgetown at the time of his appointment as President in 1964.[1] Campbell, who was 45 years old when he became president, was one of the youngest presidents in Georgetown's history.[1] He was also the first President of Georgetown University to hold a doctorate from a non-Catholic university, as he had received a PhD from Princeton in 1957.[1] Campbell's Princeton degree led the Washington Post to conclude at the time that he was a "new breed of Jesuit priest whose style might be described as Ivy League Catholic."[1]

During his tenure, Campbell created the university’s first Senate and reconstituted the Board of Directors, including lay as well as ecclesiastical members.[1][4] He also presided over the establishment of Georgetown’s first endowed chair in Pharmacology.[5] He has been credited with spearheading new student community service initiatives by Georgetown students throughout the District of Columbia.[1] On Jan. 31, 1965, Father Campbell served as the homilist for the Red Mass attended by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, presidential aid Jack J. Valenti, as well as Associate Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan and Speaker of the House John W. McCormack.[6]

Campbell began a fundraising drive to raise $26 million beginning in 1966.[1] The campaign money was needed to fund fellowships, scholarships, pay salaries, and build the new Georgetown University Law Center.[1] However, the drive raised just $15 million by 1968.[1] Campbell resigned in 1968 as heightened protests during the Vietnam War and a $1.5 million deficit in the university budget challenged Georgetown’s management team.[7] He intended to spend more time on his research and teaching schedule.[1]

After stepping down from Georgetown, Campbell worked for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus and then became the rector of the Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.[1] He returned to Washington D.C. in 1979, where he served as the director of the Woodstock Theological Center for four years.[1] He then became the founding director of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church's new Jesuit spirituality center, a post he held until his retirement in 2004.[1]

Father Gerald Campbell died from congestive heart failure at the Jesuit residence on the campus of Georgetown University on August 9, 2012, at the age of 92.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Gerard J. Campbell, Jesuit priest and former Georgetown president, dies at 92". Washington Post. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  2. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (August 15, 2012). "Former University President Dies". The Hoya. Retrieved August 16, 2012. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Obituary, Clare Zimmerman Campbell (March 20, 1962).
  4. ^ Georgetown U. President to Return to Teaching Post, N.Y. Times (June 18, 1968).
  5. ^ Georgetown Announces Chair, N.Y. Times (Sept. 16, 1966)
  6. ^ Johnson Attends a Lawyer’s Mass, N.Y. Times (Feb. 1, 1965)
  7. ^ New Financial Squeeze for Colleges, N.Y. Times (Nov. 5 1967).
Academic offices
Preceded by
Rev. Edward B. Bunn, S.J.
President of Georgetown University
Succeeded by
Robert J. Henle