John F. Crowley III (Jack) grew up milking cows and throwing newspapers in the bucolic Connecticut countryside. He dreamed of becoming an architect that designed cities (later finding out that it was called city planning). Crowley took the Greyhound Bus in 1963 to study Architecture at The University of Detroit only to get caught up in the 1965 war draft.
The United States drafted troops to the front lines as the Vietnam War raged on throughout the 1960s. Crowley was one of those brave men who was called for war. For four years he put his education on hold to aid war efforts through language training and field artillery commissions.
Once released from his job as Chief of Foreign Military Training at the Field Artillery School in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1969, he looked to finish his interrupted education. The "nearest" place was said to have people in red pants chasing a covered wagon in circles and that seemed a lot better than circles of Howitzers. He received his bachelors in both History and Art History at OU before pursuing a masters in Regional and City Planning. These were the first steps that led to his pursuit of a doctorate in Geography, with a focus on Urban Studies and his dissertation in Urban Stormwater Management.
Academia began calling and Crowley answered the call. He moved to Georgia. There he sculpted not merely parks systems but future intellects as he worked as an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Georgia’s School of Environment and Design for a three-year stint.
Crowley entered corporate America in 1980 as the development vice president of Williams Realty Corporation. The company built more than $2 billion of mixed use projects in downtown Tulsa, Kansas City, San Antonio, Denver, and Charlotte during his tenure.
“Planners and geographers are capable of managing and directing a very broad spectrum of career undertakings” Crowley said, noting his success across many diverse companies and fields.
While Crowley enjoyed his successes with Williams Realty Corporation, he longed for a return to his academic days. Crowley decided to return to the University in Georgia more than 15 years after he left. He served as the Dean of the College of Environment and Design for 10 years. He also founded the Master’s program for Environmental Planning and Design. He continues teaching and managing the program today. In addition to educating new planning and design practitioners, Crowley spreads the "Gospel of Good Development" at an American Chartered Agriculture University (Zamorano Univ.) in Honduras that serves students from all over the Caribbean and Central and South America. He also serves as Secretary to the (International) Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Crowley continues to keep in touch with those at OU and has done so for the last 40 years. He recalls the many changes time brings, like how when he began at OU the Geography program was housed in Dale Hall. Today, the program is housed in Sarkeys Energy Center and has called a couple of difference colleges home.
Geography also expanded academically with the additions of Environmental Sustainability and GIS degrees to the repertoire. These are academic journeys as diverse as the myriad of related professions Crowley practiced.