We’ve lost a thought leader, visionary, trail blazer, colleague and friend
Over the thanksgiving holiday we learned of the passing of Dr. John F. Ebersole. Perhaps like many of you, I was not aware that John had taken a leave from Excelisor College as he battled the myelodyspastic syndromes. Our UPCEA friends Bob Hansen and Lori Derkay, passed the news on to several of us. The responses were one of shared grief and loss, but also outpourings of admiration for the friend, leader and person that John was to so many and to education.
John was a wonderful colleague, a sentiment shared by all who knew him.. Rather than just offer my memories, I hope my friends don’t mind, that I pass on collective thoughts about John. He was seen as a trusted colleague, mentor and friend.
John’s contributions to our field will be felt for years to come. He was the consummate professional and leader. For many of us, he provided the nudge and a sense of urgency about higher education to be more accessible. As one colleague indicated, John was a “thought” leader as well as someone drawn to ambitious action. He truly was a force of nature in the implementation of innovation in higher education.
For many of us, we remember his strong leadership in UPCEA. John was not only instrumental in taking us in new directions at the national level, he also would scout at Regional Meetings and the Annual Conference for future UPCEA leaders. He encouraged these individuals to take on leadership roles at all levels in UPCEA.
I remember serving on the UPCEA board when John was president and one of my most fond memories was talking with him about “his story.” His road from enlisting in the Coast Guard to his own pursuit of his education which lead to completing his doctorate and advocating for access to education for all provided inspiration to many, not just me. John embodied the person that I hoped I could serve.
More than anything else, my colleagues most often thought of John as a friend. A person who reminded us of why we do what we do. John, you will be sorely missed. While you had a national impact you always took the time to be accessible to all. As one friend indicated, the best way to recognize our friend John Ebersole is to attempt to emulate his courage and vision. We can carry forth his vision and passion for educational access.
Many thanks to my friends for giving me the words to celebrate John.
We all extend our sympathy and warm thoughts to John’s family. You will be missed but not forgotten.