Letter to the editor: Remembering a formal KSU professor

George Garrison

John Heflin, former department chairman in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services, transitioned April 11, 2014.  

For many years, he taught at this institution and served with the utmost devotion, commitment and dedication.  

He was an extraordinarily impressive academic , well-trained in his discipline and exceptionally experienced at multiple levels of the educational system in this country and in multiple disciplines. John fit within the DuBoisian model of the scholar, teacher and activist in that he was not only a disseminator of knowledge to many students across generations that he taught so effectively, but throughout his life, he was an unusually gifted change agent who, through the multiplicity of his involvements, improved the lives of many — most of whom were unaware — and assisted in the progress and evolution of the institutions with which he was affiliated.

Throughout his life and career, his contributions extended throughout the local communities where he lived and worked, many regions and the nation. His influence was direct through his own efforts and indirect through the contributions of his students.  

His influence on this campus was immeasurable and invaluable. Many of the changes that were made over the last two decades relative to race relations and issues of equity, equality, climate, inclusion and general racial and ethnic respect on this campus was influenced greatly by his gentle, wise and experienced touch.

He had the intelligence, insight, courage, skills, competence, forthrightness, integrity and wisdom of those in the mode of an A. Philip Randolph or Nelson Mandela.  He never asked anyone to do what he was not willing to do himself, nor anything that was unreasonable, unattainable or inappropriate.

His knowledge of institutions and systems was unsurpassed.  His understanding of human nature, its parameters and boundaries, was beyond the norm.  His ability to affect change under the most difficult circumstances was a major asset that he brought to his work.

Kent State is much improved because of the tenure of John Heflin at this institution. He was a true friend to many on this campus and an exceptional colleague. He will be greatly missed. May God rest his soul and comfort his family.

George Garrison is a Pan-African Studies professor at Kent State.