Retiring MCCC Vice President Leaves a Lasting Legacy Through the Dr. L Diane Campbell Scholarship Fund


WEST WINDSOR – After 44 years of distinguished service, Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Vice President of Student Affairs, Diane Campbell, Ed.D., has decided to retire from her position at the college effective July 1. In her role as an administrator at the college, Campbell led Admissions, Athletics, Enrollment Management at the West Windsor and James Kerney Campuses, Counseling and Community Networks, Education Opportunity Fund Programs, Veterans Services, International Students, Career and Transfer Services as well as Student Life and Leadership Programs.

“I was trying to think of the best time to take a break so to speak,” said Campbell. “On Mother’s Day my family had a Zoom get together and my three daughters said ‘OK Mom, it’s time for you to stop now.’ They and my sister teamed up on me. I am excited about it.”

To say that her career at MCCC was successful is something of an understatement. Her four-plus decades at the college are bespeckled with formidable accomplishments both within and outside the world of academia. Notably, she was on the cutting edge of remote learning, serving as the first director of MCCC’s Virtual Campus (now known as Mercer Online) which debuted during the internet’s nascency. She became the president of the New Jersey Virtual Consortium, a joint effort among the state’s community colleges to provide distance learning. And, as an adjunct psychology and child development professor, she taught classes while she designed some of the first online courses and curriculums in the country.

Campbell’s leadership roles at MCCC as well as her service as president and member of Trenton Board of Education, Shiloh Community Development Corporation, the United Way of Mercer County and Building One New Jersey are a testament to her character and goals as is her work as an evaluator with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an organization that conducts accreditation and pre-accreditation activities for institutions of higher education throughout the region.

Campbell has no plans to slow down during retirement. While she may be leaving her community college, community will never leave Campbell. Campbell’s devotion to student success will still be a large part of her focus. She plans to continue her work as a Trustee at Shiloh Baptist Church and Building One New Jersey. Moreover, she will devote time to a new scholarship created by the college in her honor called the Dr. L Diane Campbell Scholarship Fund that will provide financial resources for urban single parents who are interested in pursuing careers in teaching and education.

“After discussing with Dr.Campbell as to how she would like to celebrate this moment with the college community, she requested that a scholarship in her honor be established,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, President of MCCC. “I think this is an excellent idea and most befitting to her contribution over so many years in service to our students.”

“We have some students who are really, really struggling,” explained Campbell. “I want people to understand urban kids and how we have to push them to do well and feel good about themselves. It is my intention to support a student with tuition and fees each year.”

Another goal of Campbell’s it to continue work with her local school district. “I will still be very connected to the Trenton school district with their advisory groups and other programs and meetings,” she explained.

Campbell has even more plans on the horizon.

“There are a couple of projects that I love,” said Campbell. “One is the Freedom School summer program through the Shiloh Community Development Corporation. The kids are showing that when they go back to school in the fall that their test scores are a lot higher based on this training. This is my favorite project. I don’t know what will happen this summer, but if there is a way to run it I am going to be excited to put some time in there.”

And family members (three daughters and seven grandchildren) are demanding more attention. “I am beginning to envision my life a little differently already,” said Campbell.

Campbell, who was raised in Trenton, was a Garden State Scholar which provided a tuition paid scholarship for four years. She chose to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. At Morgan, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Subsequently, she earned a Master in Education from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey). She came to MCCC as a job placement coordinator directly from graduate school in 1976.

Campbell described how she came upon her first position at the college.

“It was 1976 and I had finished my masters in Student Personnel Services and I applied to work at Mercer,” said Campbell. “I submitted one application and I was hired. So it wasn’t a long journey. And it is basically what I still do now — helping students and supporting them.”

Things continued to flourish for Campbell. She was guaranteed a job for three years under an Aid to Institutional Development Program grant (AIDP). Afterwards, a new grant added cooperative education and then counseling and other student services which morphed the area from employment development to student development.

“My responsibilities grew along with my professional development as I moved from coordinator to assistant dean to dean,” said Campbell. “When the University of Phoenix online program was threatening to come into New Jersey, I was given the responsibility to learn more about online learning and began to work with the faculty to do instructional design and set up courses so that Mercer and all of the colleges throughout the state would have online learning components,” she explained.

During this time the New Jersey Council for Community Colleges set up a consortium and Campbell was one of the co-chairs. Ultimately, New Jersey colleges put online learning into their curriculum. “We started with four English courses,” Campbell reminisced.

Campbell then became the director of Mercer’s Virtual Campus, and the assistant dean for Liberal Arts, then vice president for student affairs. “My whole career at Mercer has most of the time been going upward,” she said. “There were some periods where I was moving laterally but most of the time I had a lot of mobility, a lot of joy, and a lot of support.”

But not all was easy sailng for Campbell. When she decided to pursue her doctorate, she was a single mom with two young daughters. Even with those pressing family responsibilities she rose to the occasion and successfully earned her Ed.D. from Rutgers in 1990. And she did it in typical Campbell style.

“I will never forget one class,” said Campbell. “It was ‘The History of Educational Thought.’”

“I had that class and another one at the same time,” said Campbell. “If I didn’t take both in that semester I was going to have to wait another year for it to be offered again. So I approached the professor.”

Campbell explained to the professor that she was an excellent researcher and asked him if he would offer his course as an independent study. She committed to help him with his research plus keep up with the classwork. He conceded and Campbell was able to complete her course work that year and obtain her doctoral degree in Administration, Theory and Policy Studies.

“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but I have to say Mercer supported me through that program,” said Campbell.

Campbell’s passion for education has never wavered. In tandem with her vice presidential and other duties at Mercer, for a ten-year period Campbell was instrumental in her community for obtaining approvals for construction of the new Trenton High School which opened its doors in 2019.

“When I was on the school board it was a big fight because they wanted to renovate the school,” said Campbell. “I had traveled around and I had looked at new schools in Robbinsville and other areas and Mayor Douglas Palmer and I agreed that the kids in Trenton should have a new school. Ten years later with input from many others including Mayor Gusciora, it happened, I’ll tell you, I cried,” said Campbell.

Over the years, Campbell has been celebrated for her accomplishments. “Diverse Issues in Higher Education,” a national publication, selected Campbell as one of the ‘The Top Twenty-Five Women in Higher Education and Beyond’ in 2016. A sampling of her many awards include the national Distinguished Administrator Award and the Fannie Pettie Watts Award for Perseverance. She was inducted into the Sisters Rock Hall of Fame by the Xi Zeta Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Capital City Area Black Caucus also recognized Campbell as a Women’s Month honoree. She is a recipient of the Latina Women’s Council Award, Mercer County Community College Human Services Award and Urban League Community Service Award.

She received the Ecclesia (now TEAM) Community and Church Service Award. And, through the League of Innovation in Community Colleges, she was one out of 20 selected nationwide as a Kellogg Fellow, a program that developed community college leaders. Campbell was also the recipient of the Kappa Alpha Psi, Woman of Achievement Award.

“In my office, upstairs, I have one wall that is all covered with plaques,” said Campbell with a laugh. “I don’t know what to do with them.”

After Campbell’s departure she noted that many of the areas she oversaw as VP of Student Affairs will be phased over to other areas and individuals within the college. She seems to have created a true esprit de corps among her staff that will carry on in her absence. Campbell remarked, “One of the most wonderful things is that my team is strong. When you have a good team like that you can keep things mobilized.”

To help give back to urban students and keep Campbell’s legacy alive through the Dr. L. Diane Campbell Scholarship Fund, please visit

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Dr. Diane Campbell, Vice President of Student Affairs at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), will retire effective July 1.  Campbell, whose career at MCCC spanned over four decades, will leave a lasting legacy through a new scholarship called the Dr. L. Diane Campbell Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will provide financial resources targeted to urban single parents pursuing careers in teaching and education.