John E. McDaniel, Jr.

John Edgar McDaniel, Jr., long-time Adams State professor and philanthropist, passed away on May 2, 2023. He was born Oct. 10, 1932, in Decatur, Texas, the son of John Edgar McDaniel and Vivian Randolph McDaniel. He graduated from Coleman (Texas) High School in 1950. Dr. McDaniel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Christian University and then studied French culture and civilization at the University of Strasbourg on a Fulbright Grant. Subsequently, he served as an officer in the US Air Force before enrolling at Harvard to study government and politics. Dr. McDaniel temporarily deferred his graduate studies at Harvard to work in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, before serving in the Kennedy White House and later as Chief of Staff to an Oregon congressman Al Ullman. After his career in Washington and spurred by an illness in his family, he returned to Texas in 1964 and enrolled in a Ph. D. program in history at the University of Texas, which conferred his doctoral degree in 1970. He joined the Adams State University faculty in 1967, where he taught for the next 40 years. Adams State recognized McDaniel as emeritus professor of history at Adams State in 2007.

“Dr. John,” as he was fondly known, generously supported students through exemplary teaching and philanthropy. Beginning in the 1990s he began a scholarship endowment that now features 40 scholarships. Among those beneficiaries is Dr. David Tandberg, President of Adams State, who credits the McDaniel Scholarship he received as the primary reason he could persist at Adams State and graduate. Currently, the McDaniel Scholarship Trust continues to benefit the students at Adams, with twenty-eight students recently awarded scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year. In 2012, the newly renovated Education and Social Sciences Building was dedicated as the John E. McDaniel Hall in his honor. In 2014, McDaniel endowed the McDaniel Fellows program, a student intern program, which places students in campus and community employment while they complete their undergraduate degrees. In 2019, John was inducted into the Coleman Independent School District Hall of Fame, a measure of his career as an educator and philanthropist.

After his retirement, Dr. McDaniel joined the Adams State University Foundation, and was serving as vice-president and chairing the Nominating Committee at the time of his decease. In the last 30 years, his financial contributions to Adams State equaled one million dollars to date. From 1995 to 2007, he served as Faculty Marshall and was instrumental in revamping the commencement ceremony proceedings.

An avid reader, devotee of the opera and cinema, Dr. McDaniel is survived by James D. Johnson and numerous students, including Gary Gallagher, Vickie Ford, Tom Bruscino, and scores of others. His survivors remember his intellect and wit, and his favorite swear word: “Bear’s butt,” which he uttered in response to evidence-free opinions in his classes. John was preceded in death by his parents and a foster-son, Clyde Calvin Carstens.

Adams State University will conduct a memorial service on June 10, 2023, at 10 a.m. in Richardson Hall Auditorium.  (The memorial will be live streamed—more information to follow). In lieu of flowers, please support and commemorate Dr. McDaniel by donating to the Adams State University Foundation at