Brian Campbell (COM ’63, MS ’73), who recently made a $1 million gift to the university to endow scholarships in the College of Commerce, attributes much of his early business success to what he learned while earning his bachelor’s degree and master’s in taxation at DePaul.
But ask him what’s the one thing he learned at DePaul that has had the most impact on his life, and chances are he’ll recite a few anonymous lines that he remembers from one of his philosophy classes:
“We have all been warmed by fires we did not build,
And we have drunk from wells we did not dig.”
“At some point in your life you will have to admit to yourself that the success you’ve had is not entirely due to your own brilliance,” he says, explaining that while it helps to be bright, no one has ever really made it all on his own—success often depends on a chance acquaintance or a random event that occurs along the way.
One of the most influential serendipitous acquaintances of Campbell’s life turned out to be a DePaul finance professor, Eugene J. Muldoon, who taught at DePaul from 1955 through the late ’60s and for whom Campbell named his scholarship fund.
Muldoon, a compact man known for his always-snappy business attire, his reverence for The Wall Street Journal and his ability to teach without notes or textbook, was a mentor not only to Campbell and other first-generation college students like him but also to hundreds of WW II, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans who came to study business at DePaul courtesy of the GI Bill.
“Gene Muldoon believed in me,” Campbell says. “He always encouraged me and my classmates, and he took a real interest in our success. He had a tremendous impact.”
Campbell likens Muldoon’s attitude toward education to that of his father, who had to drop out of school after the third grade to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines, eventually becoming an electrician in Chicago’s stockyards.
“Gene was very much like my father,” he says. “Although my dad was a very tough guy, he insisted that I go to college—and work to get there. He told me he wanted me to make my living with my head, not my hands like he had to do.”
Campbell currently is president and CEO of Campbell Industries Inc., a private investment firm, and former chairman, president and CEO of Kaydon Corporation, a diversified industrial company.
The Eugene J. Muldoon Endowed Scholarship is intended to assist undergraduates in the College of Commerce.
In 2007, Campbell gave $500,000 to endow scholarships for students studying finance.