J. Garland Schilcutt, a Lakeland University icon and among the most revered employees in the institution’s long history, died on Friday, March 16, 2018. He was 88.
Lakeland will announced details on a celebration of his life when they are finalized.
Known simply as Prof to most, he arrived at Lakeland in January of 1958, and the Gary, Ind., native planned on staying until the end of that semester.
Lakeland, the development of its business school and the educating, mentoring and nurturing of countless Lakeland students became his life’s work and passion for 60 years.
Born on Dec. 12, 1929, Schilcutt retired in 2015, having served 57 years, the longest tenure of any employee in Lakeland’s 155-year history.
When Schilcutt arrived, Old Main was the only classroom building, and Krueger was the only one of the current 10 residence halls that existed. During his time, he worked under half of Lakeland’s 17 presidents.
Schilcutt created and sustained many of Lakeland’s business-related academic programs. He was an early leader in forming Lakeland’s evening and off-campus programs, serving as dean for the program for a time in the 1990s. He served as the first director of the Master of Business Administration program. He won numerous awards and honors over the years, including the 1992 Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and being named an honorary Lakeland alumnus in 1988.
Last fall, the Lakeland Board of Trustees approved establishing the J. Garland Schilcutt School of Business and Entrepreneurship. Trustees, current and former faculty and staff and graduates gathered on Homecoming eve at The American Club to celebrate with Prof.
But, his enormous academic and programmatic contributions to Lakeland were dwarfed by the impact he had on the lives of individual students. For years, Schilcutt lived on campus, teaching his classes by day, then tutoring, mentoring and coaching by night, often until the early morning hours.
Officially both professor and resident director, he was a mentor, father figure, disciplinarian, confessor, advisor, counselor, advocate, friend.
His students have worked on Wall Street and main streets all over the world. They have been captains of industry, business creators and owners, teachers, members of this institution’s Board of Trustees … the list goes on and on.
Schilcutt scheduled his classes to start later in the day so he could accommodate the hundreds of students and peers who spent countless hours visiting him throughout the evening. While they played pinochle or listened to him play the piano, his visitors shared their goals and fears, and they listened as he advised and encouraged them, creating relationships that have stood the test of time.
“Today we market how, thanks to technology, Lakeland delivers access to education for students around the clock,” said Lakeland President David Black. “Prof did that for almost six decades. Prof was a part of the very fabric of Lakeland. His devotion to his profession and his willingness to give whatever it took raised the trajectory of so many lives. It made him the most respected and most beloved teacher in Lakeland’s long history.
“He dedicated his life to imprinting on students and his coworkers a way to live.”