STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
President David Maxwell is well-known around Drake University. He and his wife Maddy, along with dogs Moose and Gus, are a part of the family environment at Drake. However, what most may not know is that his children have become quite successful in their careers.
Justin (38) and Stephen (36) Maxwell both followed their childhood passions when choosing a career.
Justin is currently working on a new Android software platform.
“I am a design lead at Google, leading Android Auto, a new platform for using Android in the car while keeping the drivers’ eyes on the road,” Justin said. “As design lead I both shepherd simple, intuitive user experience in our products and design the process by which we make it happen, through people management, collaboration and product strategy.”
Stephen, a scientist at heart, explained what he does as a physicist.
“I am a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology,” Stephen said. “I work on developing systems for remote sensing of greenhouse gases on the calibration of climate satellites.”
Their father said Steven’s passion came from his academics.
“When Steve was in high school, he had an incredible physics teacher who saw that he had Steve and a couple of other gifted students and got the resources to do AP Physics in high school, “ Maxwell said. “I think with that, and Steve going off to college as a physics major and realizing how much he was in love with that was what helped him realize what he wanted to do in life.”
Maxwell said his oldest son’s passion developed in college.
“Justin was a psychology major at Pomona, which is one of the top-five liberal arts schools outside of L.A.,” Maxwell said. “He had gotten into electronic music by getting a sound card for his computer when he was 14. At the same time, he was going website design. He designed the websites for a couple of different departments for Pomona. It was in college that he started spending a lot more time with his music. His dorm room at Pomona sort of looked like the central of the Kennedy Space Center. His first job out of college was working for Sony Pictures designing websites for them.”
Stephen described what it was like having their dad almost always holding a high position at one college campus or another.
“It was fun. We got to meet interesting people all the time, we got to go to performances and summer camps on campus and we got to treat the entire college campus as out backyard,” Stephen said.
Stephen and Justin also expressed the pride they have for their father.
“Our father commits to a goal and gets near tunnel vision in his desire to accomplish it,” Justin said. “For years, he had put that focus on improving not only the lives of students and faculty at the institutions he chairs, but also on the role those institutions play in local and global environments. It’s going to be exciting to see what he channels that drive and focus into next, although it will likely involve getting about 10 more guitars and some new tennis shoes.”
The Maxwells have opened their lives up to the entire university, welcoming students, staff and faculty as their family. Maxwell explained how the bond the six of them (including Gus and Moose) have is stronger than any of the ones they have with students, even as the boys have moved away.
President Maxwell explained that.
“They’re my best friends, and I’m so proud of all three of us for being able to reach that point,” Maxwell said. “When you’re 13 to 18, especially as a male, you think your father is a complete idiot, and most fathers are complete idiots, because they’ve never done it before. I’m so proud to be able to call them by best friends, other than Maddy, of course.”