by Karen Brune Mathis
For the first three years that scholar-athlete Matthew Kampfe attended Jacksonville University, he was in season from mid-August to mid-March, in addition to pursuing degrees in business administration and physical education.
That season expanded to May his senior year when he added Division I tennis to round out his already-packed schedule of nonscholarship football in the fall and D-I basketball in the winter.
“I sacrificed a social life for what I consider a more productive life,” he said from his office at the Aetna Building on the Southbank Downtown. “I had more important things on my plate.”
Kampfe, who recently turned 29, has honed his organized and competitive edge since he earned two bachelor’s degrees in 2006. He remained at JU as an admissions counselor and simultaneously earned his MBA.
He became the assistant director of admissions, also serving as the athletic liaison, and most recently was director of alumni relations.
In March, he joined Baptist Health Foundation as director of development, helping to raise money and support for the Baptist Health hospital and health system. “Baptist has a lot of relationships in the business community. I want to help grow the Baptist network,” he said.
Kampfe has been growing his business relationships as well.
He grew up in Oregon because that’s where his parents ran out of gas in a cross-country trek and started a business to work with people needing cognitive rehabilitation after acquired brain injuries. His dad was from Jacksonville and his mother, from New Jersey, had attended JU.
Kampfe, one of five boys in the family, attended JU on scholarships for academics and athletics and became active in student government.
He also was an officer of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and served on a subcommittee of the JU board of trustees.
After graduation, he remained at JU to work but also immersed himself in community work, especially joining and soon leading the Arlington Council of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce at the age of 27. He’s in his second year as president of the 90-member council, which meets at Arlington-based JU’s campus.
“I think they saw somebody who wanted to work hard,” he said.
He’s also on the board of Career Frontiers of NE Florida Inc., which provides vocational training experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities through its Bark ‘N Howl Bakery, which makes gourmet dog treats.
Kampfe was appointed to the Jacksonville Housing Authority by Mayor John Peyton and he also is regional chair for the Leadership Florida emerging leaders group, Connect Florida.
The Arlington Council was one of the few organizations that managed to book mayoral candidates Mike Hogan and Alvin Brown for a forum before the May general election, which Brown won.
Kampfe also attended the chamber’s Political Leadership Institute for aspiring politicians. “I want to help good public servants get elected, not career politicians,” he said. “That’s not to say I won’t run, but it has to be the right race at the right time.”
After Kampfe settled in Jacksonville with a career, his parents and two brothers, one with five children, also moved to town. Kampfe also started roots of his own.
He met his wife, Whitney, at JU when she visited and then returned to take a position as the assistant volleyball coach. A Jacksonville native, she had attended college out of state before taking the JU job.
Their first date was in September 2006, he proposed in January 2007 and they married the following July.
Their fourth anniversary is coming up. Their daughter, Isabella, just turned 3 and their second child is expected in a month, gender unknown.
“If you read a lot of economic theory, specialization is a key to success,” said Kampfe. “I’ve never had a chance to specialize. I have a long way to go, but having had so many experiences, I’ve been blessed with opportunities.”