Lincoln College renames environmental education center in honor of Dr. G. Dennis Campbell

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[April 24, 2017]  LINCOLN - On Saturday, though Mother Nature was less than cooperative, several dozen people arrived to celebrate Earth Day and a notable Lincoln College Professor at the LC Creekside Outdoor Environmental Center.

As the day began, the focus fell on Dr. G. Dennis Campbell, as the center was renamed in his honor. Creekside will now be known as the Dr. G. Dennis Campbell Creekside Outdoor Center for Environmental Education at Lincoln College. Though it is expected many will still refer to the area north of Lincoln along Sugar Creek simply as “Creekside.”

The day began with a speech delivered by LC President, Dr. David Gerlach, under the roof of the Dr. G. Dennis Campbell Pavilion. Gerlach welcomed guests, then thanked many folks who had come out to support Dr. Campbell and the college in the renaming of the center. He introduced his wife Lisa, whom he said was a strong and dedicated supporter and leader at the college, who had spent a good deal of time working to make this day successful.

Gerlach also introduced former LC presidents on hand, Ron Schilling and John Blackburn. Gerlach noted that when Creekside first began, it was under the leadership of President Schilling. He said Campbell had brought the idea to Schilling and together the two had made it work. Then he noted that it was under the leadership of Blackburn that the environmental center was opened.

Though work is ongoing at the center, Gerlach noted that it was Schilling and Blackburn who had done the hard work of getting the project off the ground and bringing it to reality for college students as well as the community.
Gerlach said he was very proud of the center and fully realized that it was his predecessors who had done the really hard work, making days like this easy for the existing president.

Gerlach also noted early on that the assembly was taking place in the Campbell Pavilion. He said that a few years ago, when Dr. Campbell announced that he was ready to retire from his position at LC, there was a consensus of the board of trustees that no one wanted Campbell to retire and leave the area in search of other scientific discoveries, so they named the pavilion after the him in 2013, urging him to stay.

Gerlach said that on this day the entire center was being named for Campbell in appreciation of the professor’s vision and dedication. He noted that though Campbell is now retired, he spends countless hours at the center, and remains dedicated to the success of the center.

Gerlach also noted that Campbell still has vision for what the center can evolve into, including the addition of a conference and education center. He joked that all they needed was money, so if anyone felt inclined to write a check it would be happily accepted. Gerlach said the new building Campbell would like to see would be a center for learning and hosting meetings, with climate control, so the group standing there on Saturday would instead be seated inside a nice comfortable facility.

Gerlach also went on to talk about how Campbell had developed the property into the environmental center in a very fugal manner, and how today the annual budget for upkeep of the property is only $7,000.

Bob Neal, representing the LC Board of Trustees, joined Dr. Campbell in unveiling the new signage for the center.

Campbell then humbly addressed the group saying that he was a bit embarrassed by this honor because the center was the work of many people, all of whom deserved to have their name on the sign instead of his.

Campbell acknowledged the support of his wife, Christine, and family, and noted his grandchildren who were in attendance. He said that having the center was important for them, and keeping it moving forward was important as well. Campbell went on to say that his family was larger than those he had named, but that it also included his Lincoln College family, and the community was also his family, and they all shared in the ownership of the center.

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He said with humor, “This is your property. I would only say don’t sell it.”

He also acknowledged the younger professor who is now teaching in his place at LC. He said that Dr. Julia Ossler was a new generation with new ideas and that she would incorporate modern technology in to the study of science. He joked that he was not a technology person, and that the new teacher would bring the program into the 21st Century.

Both Gerlach and Campbell spoke of the many features of Creekside including things recently added, such as the bee apiary, the extension of the boardwalk and the log cabin.

Campbell said that he wanted to remain a part of the center, and noted that someday, people would talk about the “old guy” that hangs out in the woods at the center, and that would be him.

Campbell invited everyone to take advantage of the many displays that were set up for Earth Day and to also go on one of the three guided tours that would go into the woods during the day.

[Nila Smith]

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