Cooking Up Social Change

Campbell University nurtures students to become changemakers of the highest order

Campbell University, a growing campus that has anchored Buies Creek, North Carolina, since its 1887 founding as Buies Creek Academy, didn’t have to become a Sullivan School to lead its students into lives of service. The institution’s mission is “to graduate students with exemplary academic and professional skills who are prepared for purposeful lives and meaningful service.”

But Campbell’s focus on civic responsibility converges perfectly with the Sullivan Foundation’s support of changemakers intent on improving lives and outlooks.

Campbell’s more than 6,200 students prepare to be servant leaders in disciplines from business to medicine, sports management to engineering, divinity to homeland security, to name just a few. The student body logs an average of 80,000 service hours yearly in projects such as an annual spring Inasmuch Day of Service and a Mustard Seed Community Garden that donates produce to a local food pantry.

Ready to ignite

Campbell’s longtime focus on service today aims directly at the needs of underserved communities–globally, nationally, and especially in rural areas. Intent on building on Campbell’s history with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, the office of its president, Dr. J. Bradley Creed, last August issued a University-wide memo calling on all undergraduate deans to nominate their most promising changemakers to attend the October 2017 Ignite retreat in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Not surprisingly, Kelly Fuqua and Daphanie Doane, the president and vice-president of Campbell’s Social Entrepreneurship Club, respectively, were among the 11 Campbell Camels who attended the retreat. Both were attending Ignite for the second time. They went to Ignite the first time to define social entrepreneurship for themselves.

“Last year I attended the Ignite retreat to truly get a better understanding of what social entrepreneurship is and what it means to be a social entrepreneur,” says Doane. “It really opened my eyes into the world of social change and what I could do to better my local community.”

This time around, Fuqua and Doane went to Ignite to hone their skills at organizing, networking, fundraising, and promoting social change programs on campus. Involved in myriad projects and carrying hefty course loads, both name Campbell SOUP as their “pet project” and want to boost student participation for the next event.

Hungry for innovation

Based on a Detroit SOUP community peer-to-peer funding model launched in 2010, Doane describes Campbell SOUP as “a micro-granting dinner that provides the opportunity for local start-ups, non-profits, or anyone with an idea to win funds to support their project.” Attendees pay $5 at the door for a meal of bread, salad, soup, a drink, and a voting ballot. They listen to presenters’ five-minute pitches, then vote to fund the most deserving, winner-take-all project.

SOUP at Campbell was started in 2016 by the Social Entrepreneurship club’s then-president Diane Ford, who also attended two Ignite retreats, including one with Doane and Fuqua. After hosting successful events in November 2016 and April 2017, Ford graduated in May and handed over the reins of the club, and the SOUP, to her friends.

Attendees of the most recent SOUP came to Campbell’s Lynch Auditorium and voted Buddy Backpack of Angier the winner, providing the organization with the proceeds of the evening, matched by the Campbell Office of Spiritual Life. Buddy Backpack provides low-income elementary schoolers with nutritious food over school-year weekends and holidays, and the Campbell event is funding this for one student for more than a year.

Finding inspiration in service

2019 BBA/MBA candidate Fuqua is driven by a desire to see renewed hope and faith carried out in action. She volunteered with New Hanover County Teen Court all through high school, an experience that influenced her chosen career path.

“I want to pursue juvenile justice, among other things,” she says. “To change the way younger generations view legal systems, authorities, and general respect.”

Doane’s changemaking resolve was strengthened last summer working as a mentor for the Campbell Youth Theological Institute, which focused on social change. She worked with the Five N Two food pantry in Harnett County as well as the Metanoia Community in Charleston, South Carolina.

“It was amazing to see the projects they had set in place and had accomplished to better their community,” says Doane.

Before the spring Ignite retreat in Raleigh, North Carolina, Doane and Fuqua will accompany Professor Scott Kelly, Instructor of Business & Entrepreneurship, to the 19th Annual Social Enterprise Conference presented by students at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. And then there’s program planning–including a beefed-up Campbell SOUP–for the University’s 12th annual Business Week event April 2-6, 2018. Fuqua and Doane were instrumental in shaping the Social Entrepreneurship theme of the weeklong event.

What You Really Need in Life

2015 Sullivan Award recipient Deterrian Shackelford uses education, celebrity status to impact children’s lives

Sullivan Awards are given to two different types of people: graduating seniors and community members—people on the college’s faculty or staff or even friends of the college with no official affiliation. Deterrian Shackelford (better known to friends and fans as “D.T.”) received his Award in 2015 in sort of a gray area between the two. He was a student at the University of Mississippi at the time, but he’d already finished undergrad three years earlier and had since earned a master’s degree with an eye toward a doctorate.

And while Shackelford certainly exemplified the humble servant’s heart recognized by Sullivan, he had a hard time keeping a low profile. He had been a starting linebacker for the university’s beloved football team and spent many Saturdays playing on national television around the Southeastern Conference.

Shackelford’s accomplishments came even as he missed two years of football with a torn ACL requiring two separate surgeries. He filled the void left by football by finding ways to serve others. Using his local celebrity status in Oxford, Mississippi, he brightened people’s days at a local nursing home and a children’s hospital. He volunteered to read to young children in schools and worked in a food pantry. He even spread the servant spirit among his teammates, leading them on mission trips to Panama and Haiti.

Once his football career ended, Shackelford knew his real work had only just begun. He started a career with the university’s athletics foundation. But Shackelford’s passion was still service, and he’s continued in that work by speaking to student groups to motivate them to do good work and build good character.

“A lot of these kids are attracted to the sport of football,” he says. “It’s just popular. But I want to show them that once you’re done with your athletic career, you can continue to be impactful in people’s lives. That’s something that sticks. A lot of them want to know how you played and who you tackled and who you sacked, but more kids look at what you do once you’re done with that, and, for me, that’s what matters the most. I don’t care about how many tackles I had. That doesn’t matter now. What matters are these kids. They are the now.”

Shackelford’s talks encourage kids to building strong character, overcome adversity, and develop kindness and empathy. He both discourages bullying and teaches kids how to respond to unkind words or actions. He travels all over Mississippi and to neighboring states to spread his positive message. It requires a lot of time and effort on top of the demands of his job, but he feeds off the energy in the room.

Ole Miss Football vs Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on November 29th, 2014 in Oxford, MS.

“At one point, somebody was able to instill in me morals and values and character and the things that you really need in life,” says Shackelford. “For me, this is about giving back. The money, the popularity, I’d trade all that stuff to be able to come in here every day and speak to these youths and really make an impact on their lives.”

All that practice, as well as his special gift for connecting with children, has made him excellent at his chosen second vocation.

“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Shackelford says.

When it comes to caring, Shackelford sets a high bar with his example.

A Treasure in King’s Crown

A 1980 Sullivan Award Recipient reflects on seven decades of service

For 66 years, King University in Bristol, Tennessee, has had a treasure in its crown. Fittingly, her name is Jewel.

Enter through the front door of the King Building, which houses the library and administrative offices, and you’ll find Jewel Bell peering over her desk, likely smiling. Don’t be deceived. Come to see the president without an appointment? She’ll be pleased to make a first-time acquaintance, or delighted to see you if you’re an old friend—but nobody gets into the president’s office without her approval.

Not much gets past this 88-year-old executive administrative assistant for communications. She has navigated personal and professional challenges with a generous and dignified heart, the kind of spirit often recognized with a Sullivan Award. Bell was nominated for and received the award in 1980 and has continued to exemplify its principles by constantly uplifting others.

Last year, King University celebrated its 150th anniversary, along with the inauguration of a new president, Alexander Whitaker. Whitaker is the ninth president Bell has welcomed to campus.

“He says I’m like sunshine to him,” she says.

In true form, however, Bell has made it known that the present location of her desk—a spot she’s occupied since 1990—is where she’d like it to stay.

“I said if you all move me again, I’m just going to roll on out of here like a basketball,” she says.

From Maid to Matriarch

Bell’s strong work ethic was instilled in her by her mother, Hattie Howard, who worked for 89 of her 95 years. Bell herself started her first job at age 11, babysitting. She began her career at King in September of 1952 as a temporary maid in Bristol Hall, which at the time was a women’s dormitory.

That initial, two-week job became permanent, following an offer by then-president R.T.L. Liston. When a new telephone switchboard was installed on the campus in 1961—in the midst of the civil rights movement—Bell was asked to take charge of it.

“In 1961, several men came to campus to oversee the finalization of the switchboard,” she says. “When they finished, their supervisor asked the dean of women who would be operating it. She told him I would. He looked over at me in surprise and said, ‘We don’t have negroes operating switchboards.’ She told him, ‘Mrs. Bell will not only be an operator, she will be a supervisor. We are a private Christian institution, so we do as we please.’ And that was that!”

After training on the switchboard with the United Telephone Company, Bell moved to Parks Hall, the university’s new women’s dorm, where she served as the supervisor for both the switchboard and the building. Her understanding of King and the Bristol community, as well as her prime location in the dorm’s lobby, offered her the opportunity to interact with—and keep an eye on—King’s students. She worked to raise her own young children while simultaneously serving as mother and mentor to dozens more, offering comfort and guidance where needed.

Throughout her tenure, the world has seen numerous changes and upheavals. But Bell’s steadfast attitude and loving heart has remained steady. Today, she has three grown children, seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She can also claim thousands of students who have come to her for advice, assistance, support and encouragement.

“Last year, the students who graduated in 1958 returned for Dogwood Weekend and invited me to attend the dinner with them,” says Bell. “They felt like I was a part of their class. Although I couldn’t attend classes in those days, the girls who worked for me on the switchboard and the kids all treated me as if I was the same. One precious young man who’s now a lawyer came back and gave me a hug. He told me, ‘I wanted you to go to class with us.’ I didn’t know that. You never know what’s in someone’s heart.”

Although Bell never participated in classes at King, her son, Lawrence Jr., became the first African-American student to attend in 1966.

“Whatever problems the students have had over the years, I’ve tried to help them,” she says. “One girl locked her keys in her car and called me at midnight. I took care of that. Another young woman who worked for me became pregnant and needed maternity clothes. I took care of that. A brand-new freshman took the bus all the way from Florida to come to King. He arrived at midnight with no way to get to campus and called our answering service. The call came to me and I took care of that, too. He told me, ‘I’d never been to Bristol and I don’t know if I’d have made it here without you!’

A Lifetime of Service from a Tennessee Colonel

The King community, along with residents of the region, can attest to the positive difference Bell makes. For decades she has devoted her time and efforts to the American Red Cross and the Slater Community Center. She has worked at Healing Hands Health Center since the clinic first opened its doors. She has served on the YWCA Bristol’s board of directors since the 1960s, lending her voice and the strength of her experience to the empowerment of women and the elimination of racism. While her children were in school she served on the PTA, and also served as the first African-American PTA council president. She continues to volunteer at the American Red Cross and is a longtime member of Lee Street Baptist Church.

Her unwavering dedication to King’s students, along with her longstanding devotion to her work, have earned her multiple awards. In addition to the Sullivan Award, she is an honoree of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Program, has a lane on the King campus named after her, and was honored with the establishment of the Jewel H. Bell scholarship in 2007. The fund goes to help students who, as she describes it, “have fallen through the cracks and need a little extra help to stay in school,” a purpose that’s dear to her heart.

Most recently, she received the university’s first-ever Lifetime Service Award, presented during alumni weekend in spring 2017. At the same time she was also declared an Aide-de-Camp by Governor Bill Haslam, an honor that carries with it the title of Tennessee Colonel.

President Whitaker, who before his career in higher education was an active-duty Navy captain, says Bell outranks him.

“She is senior to us all in years and stature and in the affection with which she is held,” he says.  “Jewel Bell is the one person who more than any other—including the president—represents the university to its students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community.”

A Legacy of Love

As King enters its 151st year, Bell continues to serve as a guiding voice for the students, faculty and administration alike.

“To see where this school started and where we are today, it’s mesmerizing,” she says. “We have had so many moments of rich history and we are truly blessed to have come this far.”

Her mission of caring for others remains as strong as ever, and she’s grateful for the community that cares for her in return.

“My husband, Lawrence, and I were married for 50 years until his death,” says Bell. “My own children left years ago to pursue their careers, but this is still my home and the students are my family. Some of my family call me Gran, some call me GG, JB, Miss Jewel, plain Jewel, Mrs. Bell or Ma Bell. I prefer the young people and I love them. I feel like God has enabled me to be here so long because of them, and I believe I’ve made an impact.”

Did You Know? – Grover Cleveland

In between his two terms in office, President Grover Cleveland helped start the Sullivan Foundation

Most Americans have at least heard of President Grover Cleveland. Many are probably aware that he served as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States—the only holder of that office ever to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Fewer still know that he presided over the admission of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington into the union as states or that he is the only president ever to be married while in office, inside the White House.

What even fewer know about Cleveland is the tiny footnote to his story that he was among the 77 men on the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Memorial Committee.

Cleveland, a Democrat, won his first term in 1884, defeating Republican James G. Blaine. In his 1888 reelection campaign, however, he lost the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison (though he can lay claim to popular vote victories in all three of his presidential runs). Upon leaving the White House, First Lady (and Cleveland’s still-new wife) Frances Cleveland said to a staff member, “Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again.” When asked when she would return, she responded, “We are coming back four years from today.”

Frances Cleveland was right. Cleveland won his second term in 1892, defeating Harrison handily in both the popular vote and the electoral college. But what does a president, expecting to return to office after a four-year hiatus, do with his brief stint as a private citizen?

According to history, the answer for Cleveland is a little bit of private law practice, a great deal of fishing, and serving, beginning in 1890, on the Sullivan Memorial Committee, the forerunner to what is now known as the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.

Time well spent.