Dr. Diane Campbell, a fixture in the Trenton area education scene for nearly a half century, has announced her retirement as Vice President for Student Affairs at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) after 44 years of service. A scholarship in her name has been established for Trenton-area students. Her last day at Mercer is June 30.
Throughout her career in education, Campbell has been the embodiment of the Mercer mission to provide a quality, affordable, accessible college education, which had driven her to service that includes the Shiloh Community Development Corporation, the United Way of Mercer County, and Building ONE New Jersey, among others. She served as a member and as president of the Trenton Board of Education, and played a pivotal role in the construction of the new Trenton Central High School.
As such, the establishment of a scholarship seemed a fitting legacy, according to MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang.
“After discussing with Dr. Campbell as to how she would like to celebrate this moment with the college community, she requested that a scholarship in her honor be established,” Wang said. “I think this is an excellent idea and most befitting to her contribution over so many years in service to our students.”
In keeping with Campbell’s commitment to giving back to the community through education, the Dr. L. Diane Campbell Scholarship will be awarded to support a single parent from the Trenton area pursuing a career in teaching, preferably in an urban school district. Campbell said that recent developments, particularly the uncertain times magnified by the coronavirus pandemic, serves to underscore the importance of education for individual, and our collective, success.
“We have some students who are really, really struggling,” Campbell said. “I want people to understand urban kids and how we have to push them to do well and feel good about themselves. It is my intention to support a student with tuition and fees each year.”
Campbell, a Trenton resident who still lives in the city where she was grew up, was a Garden State Scholar, which provided a tuition-paid scholarship for four years. She chose to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. At Morgan, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, and later earned a Masters in Education from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). She began her career at MCCC as a job placement coordinator directly from graduate school in 1976.
Campbell was on the cutting edge of remote learning, serving as the first director of MCCC’s Virtual Campus (now Mercer Online), and became the president of the New Jersey Virtual Consortium, a joint effort among the state’s community colleges to provide distance learning. As an adjunct psychology and child development professor she taught classes while designing some of the first online courses and curriculums in the country.
She also serves as an evaluator with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an organization that conducts accreditation and pre-accreditation activities for institutions of higher education throughout the region.
Campbell said she has no plans to slow down during retirement, and while she may be leaving her community college, the community will never leave her. Campbell’s devotion to student success will still be a large part of her focus, as she plans to continue her work as a trustee at Shiloh Baptist Church and Building ONE New Jersey, in addition to devoting time to her scholarship fund and other community projects.
“There are a couple of projects that I love,” said Campbell. “One is the Freedom School summer program through the Shiloh Community Development Corporation. The kids are showing that when they go back to school in the fall that their test scores are a lot higher based on this training. This is my favorite project. I don’t know what will happen this summer, but if there is a way to run it I am going to be excited to put some time in there.”
While she will miss her work family at Mercer, Campbell said it is a place with many memories – and people – she will forever cherish.
“One of the most wonderful things is that our team is strong,” Campbell said. “When you have a good team like that, you can accomplish most anything.”
To learn more about the Dr. L. Diane Campbell Scholarship Fund, to donate, or to share a thought or memory, visit www.mccc.edu/campbell.