Ashbrook loses leader, colleague and friend

Roger Beckett (1974-2018)

Roger Beckett (1974-2018)


Roger Beckett, Executive Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, passed away following a brief illness on Sept. 14 at the age of 44.

The campus community, including Ashbrook scholars and staff, received a letter from Interim Executive Director, Pat Maloney, informing them of Beckett’s passing.

Beckett was named the executive director of Ashbrook in 2013 but was involved in the program since he was an undergrad at AU. He was an Ashbrook Scholar during his years as a student and received both the James Madison Award and Mentor Award. Shortly following his graduation in 1996, he pursued a career working in the Ashbrook Center.

“Roger was a great friend and mentor to all of us who were lucky enough to work with him,” Ben Kunkle, student programs manager for the Ashbrook program, said. “He and I graduated from Ashland the same year and worked together at Ashbrook for the better part of 20 years.”

Through their years together, Kunkle always admired Beckett’s leadership style.

“He was exactly what everyone would want in a boss,” he said. “He was thoughtful but decisive. Focused on his goals, but open-minded enough to listen to new ideas. He treated his employees as his equals, never asking any of us to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. He will be missed by anyone who was fortunate enough to get to know him.”

After the death of Dr. Peter Schramm, former Ashbrook executive director, Beckett took over as Executive Director of the Ashbrook Program. He worked side by side with Schramm, his mentor, throughout his years in Ashbrook, and helped it grow into the program it is now.

Beckett helped expand the Ashbrook program from a little over 40 students to the current number of 130 plus students, as well as assisted in creating a Masters program for teachers.

(Above: Roger Beckett and Fox News host, Tucker Carlson at the John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner in June 2017)

His leadership, as well as his friendship, will be deeply missed on the AU campus Dr. Jeffrey Sikkenga, professor of political science and co-director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, said.

“Roger was a great friend to me, both personally and professionally. He cultivated friendship. He had the quality that distinguishes great leaders from good leaders— good leaders know how to get stuff done, but great leaders know what needs to be done,” Sikkenga said. “Aristotle called it prudence. Roger had prudence, and that is a rare quality to find in leadership.”

“Roger embodied the idea that leadership is a quality, not just a skill. When he decided things, you understood why he did them and you respected that decision, he had great judgment. When I think about leaders, I think Roger is one of those rare people that had that quality to distinguish him as a great leader.”

Through his years of dedication to the university and the Ashbrook program, his endeavors were faithfully supported by his wife, Danielle, and his daughters, Laura and Sydney.

“Roger was entirely dedicated to doing good work for the country and for Ashland University,” Dr. Christopher Burkett, co-director of the Ashbrook Program and an associate professor of political science, said.

Beckett leaves behind an impact on the Ashbrook Center and the university. Through his years of dedication to the teaching of the Constitution and the importance of self-government, his legacy will live on in all of those who knew him.

The Office of Christian Ministry is taking time to meet with any students in mourning. To make an appointment, contact Rev. Mallorie Ndlovu Dladla at [email protected]

A public memorial service will be held to honor the memory of Beckett on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. in the AU Chapel.