Walking into John McCullough’s office, most visitors are greeted with a strong handshake and leave with a hug. His demeanor is soft and inviting, making even strangers feel at home. He immediately makes eye contact with whoever is in the room, giving each person his full attention. His love for Christ is tangible, radiating care and kindness to all around.
Abby Chestnut, a junior political science major, has only had a few encounters with McCullough, though every one has stuck with her.
“Every week I wait outside [of] my professor’s office for a weekly meeting, and every week he comes by and asks if I’ve been helped.” Chestnut said.
This type of behavior does not surprise Chris Hembree, a junior business major. Hembree smiled as he talked about the beloved professor.
“He shows [his love for Christ] practically the way he teaches, he teaches as a mentor or a friend,” Hembree said. “He treats students better than himself, it’s almost as though he is playing the role of a servant.”
McCullough has a long history with John Brown University. His wife, Judy McCullough holds many ties to the University’s community. Her mother, Barbara Treadwell, was the daughter of automotive professor, Frank Treadwell.
His three daughters were raised on the very campus students call home today. Barbara attended the University as a student and met her husband here.
Judy McCartney, now McCullough, followed in her mother’s footsteps. McCullough was a student at the University and was part of a traveling band known as the “Sound Generation.” The project was similar to today’s “Red Steps.” The University hired them out to go play at high schools, alumni meetings, and other University-sponsored events.
McCullough arrived at a typical alumni dinner located in Dallas and sat down to eat with a family before performing, that happened to be Judy’s family. A few months later, McCullough recognized Judy as a cute new freshman and six years later they wed.
While McCullough enjoyed his time as a student at the University, coming back as a professor was not part of his plan. McCullough majored in music and biblical studies. He graduated in the midst of the Vietnam War and planned on enrolling in the military as a chaplain. He was accepted but then discharged three hours later for medical reasons. He claimed he holds “the shortest military term in history.”
Unsure of where to go next, he accepted a job at the University. McCullough was hired in 1967, and has worked part or full time since. “It’s been where we have needed to be,” McCullough said.
Hembree addressed how “incredibly intelligent” McCullough is. Yet, McCullough was not always qualified for the position he holds.
He started out in the development office on campus. “I worked there about 10 years and knew that was really fun, but it wasn’t what I needed to do with my life,” he said.
“Two weeks before school started, a fellow in the business department resigned,” McCullough explained. He offered to fill the position last minute.
“I thought this is really interesting stuff,” he shared. “I thought if I’m going to teach business, I probably should take some business classes. It took me about 10 years, but I graduated with a degree in business administration and accounting and passed the CPA exam.”
McCullough’s first academic pursuit may not have been business studies, but the classroom is something that comes naturally to him.
“[McCullough] integrates his own personal life into class, and I think that is what makes him such a valuable business professor,” Hembree said.
McCullough will share with students projects he worked on before or what he experienced in his personal life and make the experience applicable to what they are learning.
His teaching is not the only thing that makes him exceptional.
“He comes across as such a humble man, then you ask him a question and it blows your mind.” Hembree shared, “He is also like a father figure. He is someone you can go to and ask where you can get your car fixed. It’s nice to have someone to go to with those small questions.”