Magazine Feature / People

Former admissions dean helped DU increase enrollment

Admission Dean Emeritus Roger Campbell, who was credited with increasing enrollments at the University in the 1980s, died April 26 at his home in Poinciana, Fla. He was 75.

“Roger developed a fine admissions staff which—in an amazingly short time—reversed the downward trend in admission. That contributed in large measure to the University’s return to academic and financial health,” says former Chancellor Dwight Smith, a chemistry professor.

Campbell retired in 1999 after 16 years with the University.

Marjorie Smith, associate dean in the admissions office and Campbell’s colleague for 15 years, calls Campbell a “personification of inclusive excellence.”

“He mentored many professionals but when encouraging future leaders he gave particular attention to the underrepresented among us: women and people of color,” she says. He was always helpful, but gave criticism and advice “straight and liberally,” Marjorie Smith says. “He did not sugarcoat.”

Prior to DU, Campbell was the director of undergraduate admission at Northwestern University and also worked at Iowa Wesleyan College, his alma mater. He was a longtime member and past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

While Dwight Smith was on leave from DU from 1990 until 1992 as President of Hawaii Loa College, he hired Campbell to consult for “the wonderful but struggling small liberal arts college,” Smith says. “He was just as successful in advising the admissions head there.”

That role allowed Campbell occasional Hawaiian trips that always included a round of golf.

Back in Denver, Dwight Smith says the two enjoyed periodical “boys’ nights out” in which they sampled various restaurants in the Denver area. Even after Campbell and his wife, Nita, moved to California after his retirement, Smith says they made their “evening of good food and stimulating conversation” an annual event.

Campbell loved gourmet food, Marjorie Smith says, as well as for American Indian art. He also had a “wicked sense of humor while suffering fools poorly,” and was terrible at names which resulted in him calling every man he knew “partner” and every woman “love.”

His colleagues recall his most frequent habit: cigarette smoking in his office or pacing around with a cigarette in hand. It was that lifelong habit that was his undoing, Dwight Smith says.

In addition to his wife Nita, Campbell is survived by two daughters, Bronwyn and Heather; and a son, John. Memorial services are pending.

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