Capital Campaign Champion’s Testimony

Dr. Craig Jackson
Among those who champion the Capital Campaign, Enlarging Our Territory, is Dr. Craig Jackson. Since attending Oakwood in 1967, our community has never left his mind. “While I attended for only one year,” he says, “the experience was life enhancing, including the development of dedication, discipline, demand for excellence, and teamwork — values which are integral to my success in my current role.” Currently, Dr. Jackson leads as Dean over Loma Linda University’s School of Allied Health Professions. Yet even from California, Dr. Jackson keeps Oakwood in view. “I am extremely proud of and strongly support the music program of Oakwood and have committed my financial support.”What inspires this fidelity? Well, it begins with Dr. Jackson’s father, Samuel C. Jackson, who attended in 1938 when Oakwood was a Junior College. Samuel Jackson then returned to campus after the war and completing his education in 1951. When he returned, he accepted an offer to become Director of Music, a position he held from 1951-1955, if memory serves. So, Dr. Craig Jackson lived on campus during the time his father worked here. He recalls living with his family in what was then a row of staff houses on the road just behind the cafeteria. “I learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels on the sidewalk in front of Cunningham Hall. Now, you can imagine to a four-year-old, that thing looked steep! I look at it now and it’s still steep, but not nearly as much.”

After attending his freshman year of college elsewhere, Dr. Jackson returned to Oakwood for what he likes to call his second freshman year. “I really discovered something interesting about being here. However I was as an individual, was either accepted or not as an individual, not simply because I was black. That was different from my other experiences where the reaction from other people was really because of who I was in terms of color, not who I was as an individual. So, Oakwood restarted my academic career.”

Today, Dr. Jackson is continuing the legacy Oakwood started for him. He returns to campus each year to meet achieving students and offer awards from the Samuel C. Jackson Music Performance Endowed Scholarship which he established in honor of his father. To current students, Dr. Jackson says, “I want the students here, especially in music, because that’s the area where I’ve given now; I want them to have an experience where they get to grow and to know themselves and develop confidence about who they are—as a child of God. God has given them skills; it is their duty to develop those skills. It is our duty as the adults and professors to let them manifest those skills so that when they leave here, they know confidently what they can do.”

Enlarging Our Territory is a community effort—we have to do it together. It is Dr. Jackson’s call that we look at the value we create for our graduates and community. “We need to make sure that the succeeding generations have the same experiences we had. We will survive; the question is, will YOU be a part of that?”

If you are interested in making a donation, please contact the Advancement Office at 256.726.7201 or go to give.oakwood.edu.