The mournful siren of a lone bagpipe called friends and family to the memorial service for Cole Campbell, dean of the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism, Jan. 24 in Nightingale Concert Hall. Stories of Campbell's love for family, intellectual discourse and books – which he treasured throughout his life – elicited tears and laughter from the hundreds who attended the service.
Prominent on the auditorium stage was a small library table draped by a Scottish tartan of the Campbell clan and stacked with a fraction of the volumes from his personal book collection. Images of Campbell played on a screen throughout the service. A video compilation captured Campbell leading the 2006 journalism school graduating class in a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." Neal Ferguson, associate history professor and service host, invited the audience to sing along in tribute to Campbell, and later led the audience as they sang "If I had a Hammer," another Campbell favorite.
In remembering Campbell, President Milt Glick said, "He inspired others to be better than they thought they could be."
Provost John Frederick described how Campbell won his position as dean of the journalism school. "Cole described his ideas, his vision, and his plans for what he thought the journalism school could become," Frederick said. "It was almost a little overwhelming. We wondered if we would be able to keep up but, ultimately, I knew we found our dean."
Donica Mensing, assistant professor and director of graduate studies, described Campbell's ability to approach every request, every question, every challenge with conviction.
"His attitude toward journalism, journalism education, and all of life was one big yes. He taught us to cultivate our aspirations. He wanted our reach to exceed our grasp, just as his did," Mensing said. "He wanted us to rebel against self-imposed limitations and stake our ground in places that would make a difference to ordinary lives."
Nevada Sagebrush editor Annie Flanzraich remembered Campbell for his ability to speak eloquently, and with conviction, about the importance of the practice of journalism.
"He reminded me why it is important for me to write and to tell the story," she said. "Despite dismal predictions for the future of print [medium], Cole was passionate that there will always be a place for journalism and journalists regardless of the medium."
Campbell, former editor of both The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., became dean of the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism in July 2004. He was an author or editor of three books and wrote dozens of journal articles, book chapters, publications and reports.
Campbell earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975. He was recently elected to the Board of Trustees of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, a research foundation rooted in the American tradition of inventive research. He was a member of the Board of Visitors at the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of KNPB public television in Reno.
Campbell died Jan. 5 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle traffic accident.
Members of the Campbell family, including wife Catherine Werner and son Clarke, attended the service and listened quietly to the procession of speakers. Campbell's sister, Cathy, spoke on behalf of family members and ended her comments by saying "Good night, Sweet Prince."
A Cole Campbell Memorial Fund has been established with the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation.