Published September 19, 2018
John William Ellison, associate professor emeritus of information and library studies and a pioneer in the field of distance learning, died Sept. 11 in hospice care in Charlotte, N.C., after a three-month battle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. He was 76.
During a 38-year career at UB, Ellison taught in the master’s program in the Department of Information and Library Studies and was the first faculty member at UB to deliver long-distance education via the internet. Recognized for his research in intellectual freedom and media study, he produced more than 100 publications and media productions.
While serving as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2000, Ellison installed the region’s first distance-learning WebBoard online at the university, which placed UWI in a position to vastly increase the number and quality of its distance-learning programs.
He retired from UB in 2008.
A native of Darke County, Ohio, Ellison received a bachelor’s degree from Morehead State University, a master’s in education from Xavier University, an education specialist degree from Southern Illinois University and a PhD from The Ohio State University.
He worked as a librarian in public, school, medical and university settings, and taught in various academic departments at a number of universities in addition to UB, including Wright State University, Central Michigan University, University of Kentucky, Emory University, Sam Houston State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Illinois, University of the West Indies and Cape Coast University in Ghana, West Africa.
Colleagues note Ellison “loved the profession of library information science and media. He valued original thinking, bold action, confidence and truth. He will be greatly missed.”
Ellison was respected and loved by his students as well.
“He mentored me and many others as few others could have done. I never forgot the presence he was in my life … I would not have been able to achieve, thrive nor had the successes I did enjoy without his guidance and wisdom, which instilled in me the skills, abilities and confidence necessary to do so,” a former student recently wrote about Ellison.
In accordance with Ellison’s wishes, no funeral or memorial service is being held. Memorial donations may be made in his name to Patterson Library, 40 S. Portage St, Westfield, NY 14787 or the Lymphoma Research Foundation.