John Carlin graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science degree from Kansas State University. He is now a Visiting Professor, Executive-in-Residence, in the Political Science Department at Kansas State University. Duke, the University of Kansas, Wichita State University, and Washburn are among some of the other universities John has visited.
He is a Former Kansas Governor (1979-1987). Before becoming Governor, he was a Kansas State Representative from 1971-1979. He was also an Archivist of the United States for the National Archives and Records Administration from 1995 to 2005, and a chair of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission during the same time period.
Along with teaching a Practical Politics course here at K-State, he has also served on the National Digital Strategy Advisory Board to the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program since 2000. He has also been a board member for the Foundation for the National Archives (1992-1995), and is now an ex-officio member for the Foundation (since 1995).