President Who Fostered Community Service at GU Dies at 92
August 9, 2012 – Rev. Gerard J. Campbell, S.J., the Georgetown president who in the 1960s promoted student service to residents in Washington, D.C., died early this morning in the university’s Jesuit Community at the age of 92.
Campbell, the 44th president of Georgetown, served from 1964-1968.
“We are saddened by the passing of a cherished member of our community and a former leader of the university,” said President John J. DeGioia. “In the Jesuit tradition of men and women for others, Father Campbell recognized the growing needs of city residents and the ability of Georgetown students to help meet them.”
Wider Community Role
The Jesuit’s dedication to helping the city is chronicled in Volume 3 of A History of Georgetown University: The Rise to Prominence 1964-1989 by Robert Emmett Curran.
“[Campbell]…pledged that Georgetown would play a wider community role under his administrations by fostering student volunteer activities in the city and providing educational opportunities and other services to the city’s residents,” the book states.
The Jesuit also was known for having reconstituted the board of directors to include its first lay members. And he created the first University Senate comprising faculty and administrators.
“Convinced that … an internal board made for bad governance, because the same persons were ‘making policy, going out and implementing it, and then coming back to evaluate it,’ the president intended to transform it gradually into an external one that included both Jesuit and lay members …,” Curran’s book notes.
Doctorate in History
Campbell was born in August 1919 in Pennsylvania. He received degrees from Loyola University, Chicago, Woodstock College and Fordham University before obtaining his Ph.D. in history from Princeton in 1957.
Entering the Society of Jesus in 1939, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1951.
He taught at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia from 1945 to 1948 and at Loyola College in Baltimore beginning in the 1960s.
From 1979 to 1983, Campbell served as director of the Woodstock Theological Center.
In 1968, Campbell served as homilist in 1968 for a Red Mass, a Catholic ceremony that asks God to bestow wisdom upon judges and lawmakers.
President Lyndon Johnson attended the Mass along with Lady Bird Johnson, presidential aide Jack J. Valenti, Associate Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan and others.
Georgetown’s Lauinger Library notes that Campbell had his portrait done by Vienna native Greta Kempton (1903-91). A New York artist who was a friend of several Georgetown presidents, Kempton painted also painted President Harry Truman's official portrait.