Dr. John Ventura (’65)
“CBU gave me the confidence that, if given the time and opportunity, I would be able to solve not only practical problems but life’s challenges.”
During the 28 years that Dr. John Ventura has taught at CBU (so far), he has shaped and influenced hundreds of students in the Gadomski School of Engineering in their education and in their careers. But his own career was also shaped at CBU, where he received his own BS in Electrical Engineering in 1965. (Although he also says, “Any success I have obtained is due primarily to my wife of over 50 years, whom I met as a freshman at CBC.”)
John first began teaching at CBC in 1967 after earning his MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. He left in 1972 to start Ventura, Inc. — his own design-build engineering firm, which he operated for the next 20 years. In 1992, he was appointed to serve as the City Engineer and Public Works Director for the City of Greenville, MS. In 1999, he returned to CBU as an Assistant Professor and rose through the faculty ranks to full Professor and also served as chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department from 2007 to 2013 and again in 2017. He retired in May 2019 and was named Professor Emeritus, but he still teaches a class each semester.
John completed two doctorate degrees while teaching at CBU, an EdS and a PhD from the Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was honored by CBU during his tenure numerous times, including awards for Featured Electrical and Computer Engineer in 2001 and 2006, Outstanding Campus Advisor (for his work with the CBU IEEE Student Branch) in 2002, Featured Engineering Management Faculty Award in 2007, Advisor of the Year in 2017-2018. He was named the J. Everett Pidgeon Chair in 2018/2019 and received the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award in 2014. He was also honored by the CBU Alumni Association with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1990.
John has also been very active in local engineering circles, serving as a board member of the Memphis Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 2000, on the Board of Directors of Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE), as Chair of Memphis-Area Joint Engineers Council, and as coordinator of the MATHCOUNTS program and competition for the Memphis Chapter of TSPE from 2000 to 2015. He has been honored by his peers in those organizations as the IEEE Featured Electrical and Computer Engineer and has been recognized with the Memphis Chapter of TSPE Distinguished Service Award, the statewide TSPE Distinguished Service Award, the IEEE Memphis Section’s Award of Appreciation, the Memphis-Area Joint Engineering Council Award of Excellence, and the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers Outstanding Engineer of the Year Award.
John is co-director of the Go Baby Go Project, a joint project between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and CBU that provides customized ride-on electric cars for children 18 months to three years of age with disabilities. One of the Special Topics courses he still teaches in his retirement is for CBU students involved in the project.
Helping disadvantaged children has been a concern of John’s since his student days at CBC in the 1960s. In fact, this is one of his fondest memories from his student days:
Several students and I raised funds, bought gifts, and gave a Christmas party for young children at St. Peter’s Orphanage. As we sat with the children, we made an effort to sing Christmas songs – but we were terrible. Finally, a nun was kind enough to suggest that the children sing to us instead – they knew all the Christmas songs and performed flawlessly, and our eyes were full of tears. As we were leaving, a nun said that the greatest gift we had given was sitting and talking to the children, for it was love that the children missed and treasured most, not material gifts.