A back arrow

All Articles

Lessons learned on life's highway

Lessons learned on life's highway

Jeaneen Parsons June 05, 2019

Jack Marchbanks is a man who’s going places. And as the newly appointed director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, he’s making sure everyone else can go places, too. In his previous post as ODOT’s assistant director for business and human resources, he managed 5,000 employees and a $3.3 billion budget. Before joining the government ranks, the 1974 political science graduate served in the private sector as the marketing director for architectural and engineering firm PRIME AE Group.

A staunch believer in lifelong learning, Marchbanks recently earned a doctorate in history and also holds two master’s degrees, including an MBA.


“I was brought up by working-class parents who instilled the value of learning in me. It was fulfilling to earn my doctorate last year,” he said. “I use my wide knowledge of cultural history every day. It provides a context for the executive decisions I am empowered to make and allows me to teach my millennial and Gen Y colleagues about political and sociological touchstones which have a nexus to present day realities.”

In his doctoral dissertation “Pride and Protest in Letters and Song: Jazz Artists and Writers during the Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965,” Marchbanks combined his love of history with another of his passions — jazz. As the host of the “Jazz Sunday” radio show on WCBE in Columbus, Ohio, Marchbanks stays connected to the arts and cultural scene that is an integral part of his life.

“I love jazz because it perfectly captures the aspirational ideal of America: the opportunity to excel individually (soloing) while simultaneously advancing the whole (ensemble performance),” he said.

In addition to his academic and professional pursuits, Marchbanks sits on the board of trustees of the Lincoln Theatre Association, a community-based performing arts organization in Columbus, where he co-hosts free community conversations events twice a year on topics connected to art, politics and culture.

Although his interests take him in many directions, wherever Marchbanks is going, there’s most likely a jazz song on the radio to mellow out the ride.

Interested in reading more about our UD alumni? Click learn more to read about Harriet Ammann '61