L. Jackson "Jack" Newell

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L. Jackson Newell
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Born (1938-10-11) October 11, 1938 (age 83)
Dayton, OH
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materDeep Springs College
Ohio State University (BA)
Duke University (MA)
Ohio State University (PhD)
  • Educator
  • Author
  • College president
EmployerUniversity of Utah

L. Jackson Newell (born October 11, 1938) is an American historian and philosopher of higher education, specialising in the study and leadership of progressive colleges from Antioch and Berea prior to the Civil War through the new wave taking root in the early 2020s, including Outer Coast College, Thoreau College [1], and the Tidelines Institute [2]. He has served as professor of educational leadership and dean of Liberal Education at the University of Utah, and president of Deep Springs College [3].

Early Life

The youngest of three children, Newell was born in Dayton, OH, to Leonard J. Newell, a physician in general practice, and Henrietta W. Newell, an educator and community activist. His family attended Methodist services, while maintaining ecumenical ties in their community and extended family. He studied liberal arts and sciences at Deep Springs College and the University of California, Davis, then finished his BA degree at Ohio State University in history. He spent his college summers as a mule packer and crew chief fighting forest fires at Glacier, Crater Lake, and Grand Canyon National Parks [4].

Professional Education and Career

Newell earned his MA degree at Duke University in American history with a divinity school minor. He taught six years at Clemson University, Deep Springs College, and the University of New Hampshire before returning to Ohio State where he completed his PhD as the Thomas Holy Fellow focusing on the history and philosophy of higher education. He spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University Council for Educational Administration.

In 1974, Newell joined the University of Utah faculty and was shortly appointed dean of Liberal Education, a position he held for sixteen years [5]. He led the creation of a campus-wide undergraduate program that featured interdisciplinary core courses required of all undergraduates, innovative faculty evaluation and development methods, and distinguished professorships for both resident and visiting scholars.

Author or co-author of ten books and over 100 articles, Newell collaborated early in his career on several studies with Roald F. Campbell, a pioneer in the study of educational leadership[6]. Later, he collaborated with Sterling M. McMurrin, distinguished professor of philosophy and U.S. Commissioner of Education in the John F. Kennedy Administration. <it>In Matters of Conscience</it> with McMurrin, Newell launched his work as a biographer [7]. During this period, he also published a major study of progressive institutions, Maverick Colleges: Fourteen Notable Experiments in American Undergraduate Education [8], and edited the refereed journal, The Review of Higher Education [9].

Newell accepted the presidency of Deep Springs College in 1995 [10] . During his tenure, the college restored the vitality of its unique educational program based on academic study, manual labor, and student self-governance. He led an $18 million capital campaign, rebuilt the physical plant, and recharged the endowment [11]. After nine years, he returned to teach in the University of Utah's Honors College. Independently, he co-founded and co-taught the Venture Course in the Humanities for low-income adults in downtown Salt Lake City (a Clemente Course) [12]. He has since published three scholarly works: The Electric Edge of Academe: The Saga of Lucien L. Nunn and Deep Springs College, a biography of the early hydroelectric power entrepreneur and the college he founded [13] [14]; Hope, Heart, and the Humanities, about the Venture Course [15]; and Conscience and Community [16].

Personal Life

Newell has been married to author and artist Linda King Newell for over fifty years. They have four children, all educators. Newell and his wife edited the independent scholarly journal, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought in the 1980s, publishing the groundbreaking work of D. Michael Quinn and championing independent scholarship and freedom of conscience within that religious culture [17] [18] [19]. Newell chronicled his withdrawal from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an autobiographical essay published in 2006 [20]. A second autobiographical essay in his "En Route" series, about his evolving philosophy of education, was published in Contemporary Philosophical Proposals for the University in 2018 [21].

Awards, recognition, and public service

Granted the special rank of University Professor, Newell was also Utah's first CASE Professor of the Year [22]. His teaching honors include designation as a Presidential Teaching Scholar [23] and the Hatch Prize for Excellence in Teaching [24]. The Association for General and Liberal Studies granted him the Joseph Katz Award for distinguished contributions to general and liberal studies, and the Association of the Study of Higher Education has recognized him with its Distinguished Service Award. In 2009 he became the ninth recipient of the Deep Springs Medal for a life of leadership and service consistent with the ideals of the college. He has served as a trustee (and board chair) of Deep Springs College [25], and as a board member for the Utah Humanities Council, the Bennion Center for Community Service, the Virgin River Land Preservation Society, and other non-profits. He is a senior advisor for Outer Coast College (AK), Thoreau College (WI), and Flagstaff College. (AZ).


  1. https://thoreaucollege.org/
  2. https://www.tidelinesinstitute.org/
  3. Jarvik, Elaine (Summer 2015) "An Examined Life," Continuum: The Magazine of the University of Utah, pp. 34-38.
  4. Newell, L. Jackson (09-05-2018) "Broadbent's Boathouse: Crater Lake National Park, 1960," Historical Archives of Crater Lake National Park, 4 pp.
  5. Jarvik, Elaine (Summer 2015) "An Examined Life," Continuum: The Magazine of the University of Utah, pp. 34-38.
  6. Campbell, Roald F., Thomas Fleming, L. Jackson Newell (1987). A History of Thought and Practice in Educational Administration. New York, Teachers College Press. ISBN 0-8077-2844-6
  7. McMurrin, Sterling M., L. Jackson Newell (1996) Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion. Salt Lake City, Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-087-6.
  8. Newell, L. Jackson, Katherine C. Reynolds, Scott Marsh (1996) Maverick Colleges: Fourteen Notable Experiments in American Undergraduate Education, 2d ed. rev. and expanded. Salt Lake City, Educational Policy Center, University of Utah. Published in OpenCourseWare Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009, for Learning Seminar, Experiments in Education (SP.291/ESG.SP291).
  9. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/645107/summary
  10. "U. Professor to Guide Socratic Deep Springs College," Salt Lake Tribune, p. D4, April 4, 1995.
  11. "Newell Makes Big Impact on Tiny College," Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 2000.
  12. "Journey of the Mind: How Socrates, Bernini and Sartre Enriched 16 Lives," Desert News, June 4, 2006.
  13. Newell, L. Jackson (2015). The Electric Edge of Academe: The Saga of Lucien L. Nunn and Deep Springs College. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-1-60781-406-1.
  14. "Electric Edge" Gives Definitive Look at College, Its Founder."
  15. Cheney, Jean, L. Jackson Newell (2016). Hope, Heart, and the Humanities: How a Free College Course is Changing Lives. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press. ISBN 9781607815280.
  16. Goldberg, Robert Alan, L. Jackson Newell, Linda K. Newell (2018). Conscience and Community: Sterling M. McMurrin, Obert C. Tanner, and Lowell L. Bennion. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press. ISBN 9781607816041.
  17. "Panel Weighs Free Speech in LDS Church," Deseret News, November 18, 1994.
  18. L. Jackson Newell (1980). "Personal Conscience and Priesthood Authority." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 13 (4): 71-80.
  19. Anderson, Devery (2002). "A History of Dialogue, Part Three: The Utah Experience, 1982-89." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 35 (2): 1-71.
  20. Newell, L. Jackson (Winter, 2006). "En Route: A Journey of the Spirit." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 39 (4): 157-93.
  21. Newell, L. Jackson (2018). "En Route: Toward a Philosophy and Practice of Liberal Education." Stoller, Aaron and Eli Kramer (eds.) Contemporary Philosophical Proposals for the University. New York: Springer International Publishing: pp. 81-102.
  22. "Former Dean Named Professor of the Year," Salt Lake Tribune, September 19, 1991.
  23. "U Presents 10 with Teaching Scholar Award," Salt Lake Tribune, May 31, 1994.
  24. "U Professor of Educational Administration Wins $5,000 Award for Outstanding Teaching," Deseret News, August 31, 1993.
  25. https://www.deepsprings.edu/

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