A Game Changer: Edgewood dean and former minor-leaguer plays to a new crowd

In January 1993, newlywed Scott Campbell was an aspiring pro baseball player, looking forward to spring training as a member of one of the Montreal Expos' minor-league teams, when fate took a sudden turn.

He was released.

In one quick moment, the dream he had held since his T-ball days vanished as quickly as – well, as Bob Uecker would call it – a "frozen rope over the center field wall." But for all his disappointment, the end of one potential career led to the formation of another, in a frantic look for plan B.

The youngest of seven children born within an eight-year span, Campbell learned early to be a team player. He earned a scholarship to play baseball for the University of Southern California before he found out he needed back surgery. He then switched to the University of Oklahoma for three years, receiving scholarships in years two and three. After graduating in 1991 with a degree in history, Campbell was drafted by the Expos (now the Washington Nationals).

"It was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything," Campbell said, "just to be in pursuit of the dream." He admits there was an element of Bull Durham in the minors "if you looked for it." Former Milwaukee Brewer Jeff Cirillo was in his recruiting class, and Geoff Jenkins' brother was Campbell's roommate in pro ball.

Covering His Bases

After that fateful 1993 day, the California native continued discussions with two other teams. Meanwhile, a friend and former coach contacted him about an assistant coaching opportunity at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. He and wife Yvonne visited the school for an interview, and while that didn't pan out, the school took note of Campbell's history as a peer minister at Oklahoma, and his role as captain of the baseball team, and decided the couple would make good student role models.

Ironically, on the very same day, Campbell received offers from both baseball teams as well as an offer from Benedictine College to be the director of student activity. "It was a fork in the road," he recalled. "Do I see myself playing for the big leagues, or go the education route? I had to realistically look at my chances of playing in the big leagues, and those were tough conversations to have."

Campbell took the job at Benedictine College, during which he also pursued a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. When Benedictine hired a new president, Dan Carey, Campbell found his mentor.

In 1996, Campbell joined Regis University in Denver, Colo., as director of student activities and director of the leadership program, where he remained for nine and a half years. During that time, he also earned a Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado, became a father, and served as director of partner development for Regis' New Ventures program, developing college programs to meet the needs of working adults. Meanwhile, across the country, mentor Dan Carey was named president at Edgewood College in Madison. In 2005, Dr. Campbell applied for and got the job of dean at Edgewood College's school of graduate and professional studies.

Making Campbell's Edgewood experience even richer is his involvement with the school's initiatives to reach out to returning veterans, including the school's partnership on Dryhootch Madison and a Veterans Welcome Resource Center. "Vets have unique needs," Campbell said. "Most are capable of higher education work with strong backgrounds in high school and college, but they're also coming back from an extremely stressful environment, and may have a range of needs – from personal counseling, to post-traumatic stress disorder, to brain injuries. If we really want to support these folks, we have to reach out to them and understand them."

Looking back, he takes his forced career change in stride. Instead of shoulda-coulda-woulda, the 43-year-old now performs for a new audience of adult students. Rather than counting balls and strikes, he counts his blessings. "In my role here, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world because we can change people's lives," Campbell said. "Whether from a job loss or divorce, people want to improve their professional life. I can help create the programs and the environment to make that happen."

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