My Favorite Leader
Dr. Felicia Campbell teaches in the English department at UNLV. Dr. Campbell sprung to my mind when reading about leadership, and its qualities, and emotional intelligence; because of her ideas, energy, persistence, and determination. She has taught English at UNLV for 53 years. In those 53 years, she has attempted and implemented a number of policies and programs from spearheading a teacher’s union, enforcing equal pay for women, which led to censure from her coworkers in the English Department at UNLV, so offered ‘scandalous’ literature courses, and created the FWPCA from that ‘punishment.’
Matt Jacob, reporting for the UNLV News Center in November 2012, about her upcoming honors at the Fall Graduation Ceremony for the Liberal Arts Colleges, asked Campbell’s long-time friend Michael Green to comment. Professor Green said,
“The guts to pursue a lawsuit that did not endear her to her university. The guts to offer courses that traditional academics eschewed. The guts in taking a position on a subject that a lot of people found distasteful. Heck, the guts to come out here in the first place.”
Green mentioned that Campbell seemed to know before others when something would be fashionable. Jacob also interviewed Charles Adams, Professor Emeritus, who said “She permitted fresh air to flow through the university.” He went on mentioning that Campbell never had trouble filling her classroom, and had a high number of repeat students, which is “one of the nicest complements you can get.”
In 1962, when she arrived at UNLV, it was little more than the southern satellite of UNR. The benefits, pay and working conditions of the UNLV professors were difficult. Worst was the treatment of women, and minorities. During the 1970’s she spearheaded what became a Federal law suit to end pay and access discrimination at UNLV. In an interview with Richard Lake, of the RJ, she said, “I didn’t know I was coming to the Mississippi of the West.” Along with others, sued the University for equal pay, minority access, and promotion. She was the last holdout; and when she finally settled, was ostracized by her coworkers.
In 1983, the 52-year old English professor took her settlement from the Federal lawsuit, traveled to Pakistan, and climbed to the 16,000-foot base of K2. “It changed my life,” she said. “To do something like that brought such an incredible amount of self-confidence.” Of course, before she was an English professor, she was among the first class of female officers in the Marines, which makes this believable, even without the pictures and memorabilia in her office.
When she returned, she began her now-famous career in popular culture, she taught the first courses on Women and Literature, Black literature, Asian literature and chaos theory. She also teaches adventure literature, noir literature, science fiction and mystery literature. In February 2012, she celebrated the Silver Anniversary of the Far West Popular Culture Association (FWPCA), which publishes an annual review and conference of over 200 scholars around the world.
From the ashes of her failed bid at equality she created the Far West Culture Association, which had become her literary empire. The National Popular Culture Association with over 2600 members, awarded her a Lifetime Service Award in 2013. In that 2012 Rebel Yell interview, she said, “I hope to keep teaching as long as possible, I have a couple of books in the works, and next year is the silver anniversary of Far West Culture and American Culture Associations’ annual meeting. Life is open ended and we never know what is coming next.”
In all her endeavors, she has clear leadership skills. Including:
- Courage in that she decided to climb K1, so that she would ‘walk the talk’
- Curiosity and self-assurance, reflected in creating and directing the FWPCA
- Determination, and persistence, sticking with the Federal lawsuit seven years, and still teaching popular culture and Asian literature after 50 years!
- Ethics from spearheading the Federal lawsuit, on equal pay, and access
- Sociability in that her students tend to take additional classes from her, which are elective classes, and being the director of the FWPCA
- And imagination, a necessary leadership quality is shown in her ability to take a loss in professional respect and transform it into something of value, the FWPCA.
Fuentes, D. (2012, February 6). Professor spotlight: Dr. Felicia Campbell. Retrieved from The Rebel Yell: http://www.unlvrebelyell.com/2012/02/06/professor-spotlight-dr-felicia-campbell/
Jacob, M. (n.d.). Guts is the Word. UNLV News Center. Las Vegas, NV. Retrieved from http://www.unlv.edu/news/article/guts-word
Lake, R. (2012, November 23). UNLV professor passes along lessons from lifetime of teaching. Retrieved from Las Vegas Review-Journal: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/education/unlv-professor-passes-along-lessons-lifetime-teaching