Ben Campbell: Sixth-generation Black Bear holds up family traditions

When Duncan Aleister Benjamin Campbell — or “Billy Ben,” as his friends and fraternity brothers know him — walks across the stage to graduate this spring, he will be continuing a family tradition. Campbell is part of the sixth generation University of Maine graduates from his family, whose Black Bear origins can be traced back to the earliest graduating class.

Campbell’s great-great-great-grandfather Edwin Haskell was one of the six men in the first-ever graduating class of 1872 at the university, then called the Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts.

Growing up in Wells, part of Campbell always knew that he would end up at UMaine. Coming to college, he planned on studying secondary education — and that is the degree he will be graduating with in May — but he wanted the wide breadth of academic options that UMaine had to offer. Once he arrived, he fell in love with the community, both in the school and with the surrounding community that he has experienced through student teaching.

Like many men in his family before him, Greek life was a central part of Campbell’s experience. He is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity; his great-great grandfathers were in Phi Gamma Delta, his grandfather was in Sigma Phi Epsilon and his father was a Lambda Chi Alpha. 

Despite this, he says there is “no tension” in the family, only intergenerational “jokes.” 

Campbell’s experience was different from his relatives in one key respect, though: COVID-19. Throughout the lockdown, Campbell lived at the fraternity house, which he experienced as a unique opportunity to learn about people and communities that he will carry with him even after college.

“It gave me time to really see people work in different ways,” Campbell says. “It kind of put me in the mindset of, ‘Yeah, every interaction that I have is important in some way or another.’”

After graduation, Campbell plans to find a place to teach in central Maine. He says that he has “fallen in love” with the area during his time at UMaine, and eventually hopes to take over his grandparents’ house in Brewer.

Campbell won’t be the last of the sixth generation to go to UMaine, either. His brother Keenan is starting at UMaine in the fall. Campbell says that his family jokes that all the former Black Bear fraternity brothers — his father, grandfather and great-great-grandfathers’ ghosts — are encouraging him to join their respective fraternities, “but obviously he’ll end up [in Tau Kappa Epsilon].” 

In the midst of that, though, Campbell says he’s been giving brotherly advice to just get out there to find community, whatever that may look like. 

“Coming to campus and getting the chance to meet all these different people and, you realize, ‘Oh, there are a lot of people who have similar interests to me,’” Campbell says. “If you put yourself out there, you’ll find your home.”

Contact: Sam Schipani,