PROFILE OF JOHN A. GUEGUEN, JR.

 

John Arthur Gueguen, Jr., is the son of John Arthur (1910-1992) and Marjorie Agnes (Mallot) Gueguen (1910-1997)—their first-born (four daughters followed).  His father was descended from immigrants to the United States from Brittany in the late 19th century; his mother was descended from Irish immigrants in the mid 19th century.  Both families settled in Lexington, a small river town in western Missouri.  Both parents practiced the Catholic faith with devotion; aided by the priests and nuns of Immaculate Conception church and school they instilled in their children a solid life of piety.

John Jr. (known as Jack in the family and at school) was born in Independence, Mo. on Flag Day, June 14, 1933, and baptized July 2 at St. Mary’s Church.  His education began at home with Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia.  After several moves to other river towns in Missouri, the family returned to Lexington in 1944.  Gueguen graduated (salutatorian) from Lexington High School in 1951 (having taken part in numerous school activities) and from Wentworth Military Academy (Junior College) as Honor Graduate in 1953 (having followed the pre-engineering curriculum and editing the school paper).

Gueguen transferred to the Univ. of Notre Dame, intending an architecture major, but soon switched to the program in journalism (communication arts) in the College of Arts and Letters, and joined the band (trombone).  At Notre Dame he learned to study hard, pray well, and form friendships with fellow students and faculty members.  He graduated in June 1956 magna cum laude, and awarded an assistantship (with Gerhart Niemeyer) in Notre Dame’s masters program in Soviet and East European Studies (M.A., 1958). 

        Later that year Gueguen was asked to fill a sudden faculty vacancy in the political science dept., and this became the beginning of a lifetime career in college teaching (interrupted by doctoral studies with emphasis on political philosohy at the Univ. of Chicago; Ph.D. June 1970; dissertation director, Joseph Cropsey).  While teaching at Notre Dame (1958-60, 1962-64, 1965-66) he served as assistant to Eric Voegelin and in 1960 helped to establish Windmoor House, a student residence and meeting center near the campus.

        Gueguen’s teaching career continued at San Francisco State (1967-68) while helping to establish Richmond Park Cultural Center for supplementary education of high school students, and in the College of the Univ. of Chicago (1970-72); his long tenure at Illinois State Univ. (Normal) began in Sept., 1972.  There he devoted 24 years to the intellectual and personal formation of several thousand students and formed many lifetime friendships.  In 1981 he was selected teacher of the year in the Arts and Sciences College and delivered the Arts and Sciences Lecture.  He became emeritus in 1996; at that time the annual Thomas More Scholarship was created in the Dept. of Politics and Government to honor high achievers in political thought who intend careers in public service. 

Gueguen’s primary achievement at Illinois State was in researching and teaching political thought and great books courses, as supplemented by informal discussions with students and conference papers for colleagues.  He participated in a dozen professional associations and published frequent articles and book reviews.  He was a co-founder of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (1990).  His principal extra-curricular activity (1983-92) was heading the American delegation to the annual UNIV congresses in Rome and editing the ICU (Institute for University Cooperation) quarterly, Cooperation in Education; nine ISU students accompanied him on those trips.  He also helped to develop and often taught a study skills course for high school and college students.  Between 1980 and 2005 he taught courses in moral and social philosophy and the history of philosophy in Summer Semesters of Christian Philosophy.

During the fifty years of his academic career Gueguen acquired a substantial library and archive in the history of philosophy and political thought.  This is located in part at Wespine Study Center (his retirement residence in suburban St. Louis) and at Lincoln Green, a student residence and meeting center he helped to establish in 1989 near the Univ. of Illinois in Urbana.  He maintains active association with more than 50 former students and colleagues, as well as his four sisters, their 19 children, and 40-some grandchildren, visiting whenever possible and writing often.