History of the School | Judson University Christian College
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Our History

Over 50 Years of Excellence Inspired by 200 Years of Legacy

Judson’s roots are almost a century old, an outgrowth of Northern Theological Seminary, which was founded in 1913.

From its inception, Northern offered both graduate and undergraduate education to men and women training for the ministry.

In the early 1960s, when the seminary portion of Northern moved from Chicago to Lombard, it was decided to make the college an independent entity. Under the guidance of Dr. Benjamin P. Browne, college and seminary president, a "new" school was founded along the shores of the Fox River in 1963.

The college was named after Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary abroad, arriving in Burma in 1813 and eventually spending 37 years overseas, returning home just once in all that time.

Judson University has become home to people from all around the world, including students from Kenya, India, Serbia and Japan.

From a 19-acre private estate, Judson has expanded to 90 acres of woods and lawns. Nearly two dozen buildings dot the grounds, including four residence halls, a campus apartment building, a fine arts center, a fitness center, student center and a 700-seat chapel.

Judson’s first president, Dr. Browne, retired in 1967. Dr. Amos B. Barton served as president through 1969 and Dr. Harm A. Weber from 1969-1992. Dr. James W. Didier was next in line, serving from 1992-1998. Dr. Jerry B. Cain became Judson’s fifth president, serving 14 years before retiring in June 2012. Dr. William Crothers served as our Interim President during the 2012-2013 academic year. In April 2013, Judson welcomed Dr. Gene C. Crume Jr. as President-Elect. He became president in June 2013.

History has shown that each one of the presidents believed that where people come from isn’t nearly as important as where they are going. With such a mindset, leadership is action, not position. In the Judson administration building, it is commitment, not authority, that has always produced results.

Those results have allowed for close personal relationships among almost everyone on campus, an egalitarian spirit supported by the school’s relatively small size.

Judson is an evangelical Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences and professions, offering a wide variety of B.A. programs and “practitioner-based” graduate programs in architecture, education, organizational leadership and literacy.

In 1994, Judson introduced a new academic division concentrating on continuing education for non-traditional students. Since its inception, the Division of Adult and Continuing Education has offered innovative programs with a high level of student service, both at the main campus in Elgin and at its extension campus in Rockford. The extension campus was established in 1999.

In 2013-2014, Judson University celebrated its Golden Centennial Anniversary, commemorating 50 years since the college’s relocation to Elgin in 1963, after being founded in 1913 as part of Northern Theological Seminary. With an academically challenging environment and encouraging spiritual community, Judson shapes lives that will shape the world.


Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World