Judson University Celebrates 48th Founders' Day
(Elgin, IL - October 28, 2011) Donors, alumni and friends of Judson University convened for a full day of festivities to celebrate the school's annual Founders' Day on Friday, October 28 at Judson's Elgin campus.
The day's events began with a rededication of the Marjorie Thulin Performance Hall in the Alice and Edward Thompson Center. The performance hall recently underwent renovations, including new carpeting, a new curtain, a new projection screen, and perhaps most notably, new seating with nameplates for donors who contributed funds for the renovations.
Among those benefactors that spoke at the rededication, Linda Cain, wife to Judson President Jerry Cain, spoke of the growing appreciation that she and Dr. Cain have acquired for the arts. While she once regarded the visual and performing arts as merely entertainment, Mrs. Cain explained that her son, an artist, taught her that art is a form of communication.
“Just as my appreciation for the arts has grown, we trust our gifts to Judson will enable young adults to have that same experience while participating in activities that will enrich their lives as well as the lives of others, both today and in the years to come," said Mrs. Cain.
During the Founders' Day chapel service, Dr. Robert Erickson, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies and one of the founding faculty members of the institution when it was first established in 1963, was honored for 50 years of teaching. Erickson taught for two years at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary before transferring to the nascent campus of what was then Judson College. In acknowledging the professor, President Cain noted that in half a century of teaching, Dr. Erickson has never missed a single class.
The featured speaker for the chapel service was Rev. Dr. George Tooze, author of The Life and Letters of Emily Chubbuck Judson [Fanny Forester], third wife to Adoniram Judson, who was the first American missionary abroad and the university’s namesake. Dr. Tooze has spent more than 30 years researching Emily Chubbuck Judson and his book is to be published in seven volumes by the Mercer University Press. During his chapel message, Dr. Tooze highlighted the life and legacy of Emily Judson.
Emily Chubbuck Judson, born in August 1817 in Eaton, N.Y., was born into severe poverty. She began working in a nearby woolen factory at the young age of 11, but was still able to earn an education. She later attended the Utica Female Seminary and later became a composition teacher at the school. She began writing short stories and poetry, and later published two books, all under the pseudonym of Fanny Forester. According to Dr. Tooze, she soon became well known across the nation amidst such contemporaries as Edgar Allen Poe and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow.
When Emily met Adoniram Judson in 1845, Judson asked her to write a biography about his second wife, Sarah, who had died that September on their voyage back to the United States. Dr. Tooze described how their relationship soon developed into romance, though the match sparked controversy among friends and loved ones. While many close to Emily saw her as a proficient writer who was abandoning her personal success for a suitor twice her age (she was 29 years old, he was 58), those close to Adoniram felt that his work as a missionary and man of God were in jeopardy if he married Emily, a self-proclaimed “reluctant missionary.” Nevertheless, said Dr. Tooze, the two were married in June of 1846. They left the following July to return to Adoniram’s post in Burma.
Though it is Adoniram Judson that the university is named for, Dr. Tooze believes that it was Emily who provided the distinctly human picture of him for future generations to come to know. Adoniram was notably adverse to history, requesting to all his correspondents that they burn his letters. But Emily kept her correspondence from her husband and shared it with others, which Dr. Tooze said revealed Adoniram as a loving and humorous man, much different than his reputation as a staunch and serious missionary.
“You are here because you love this school. You are here because you are invested in it. Emily Chubbuck Judson would be very comfortable here,” Dr. Tooze said to the crowd in his closing remarks. “She would see Judson University as a place where dreams can be nurtured… She would see that this is a place where God’s call for individuals can be solidified and directed.”
At the luncheon following the morning chapel, Dr. Cain and Architecture Department Chair Keelan Kaiser presented the “Campus Plan 2020.” The plan outlined the major building projects that the administration hopes to accomplish in the next nine years, including updates to the soccer field and the addition of a track and field, as well as additions to the science building, the dining hall, and the Alice and Edward Thompson Center.
During the luncheon, Judson honored First Lady Linda Cain with the Golden Eagle Award. The Golden Eagle Award is given to an individual who has displayed passionate commitment to Judson through his or her outstanding service and support of the university.
Linda Powell Cain, Dr. Cain’s wife of 43 years, has faithfully served the university in many creative ways, including oversight of special projects for campus beautification, student scholarship fundraising, plus hospitality and etiquette classes for students. Over several years, Linda faithfully saved $10,000 from the Cain family grocery budget to endow a scholarship for young people who are first-generation college students like herself. Her pecan pies and golf cart for First Lady Landscaping are now Judson traditions.
“Little did the Judson community know what a huge bonus they would receive when they brought Dr. Cain to Judson as president,” remarked Carol Thompson, chair of the Judson University Board of Trustees, as she presented the award to Mrs. Cain. Thompson shared quotes and anecdotes from Judson students, staff and faculty who had the privilege of working alongside Mrs. Cain in various capacities.
One staff member was quoted as saying, “Linda radiates graciousness, a servant’s heart and a work ethic of thoroughness and excellence in all that she does. I have been so blessed to work alongside this woman of God, to learn from her and call her my friend.”
The university also honored President Jerry Cain with a painting commissioned by John Carlson of St. Charles. The painting depicts Dr. Cain and former U.S. President George W. Bush shaking hands, a pose from a photograph taken last April when President Bush visited the campus as keynote speaker for Judson’s inaugural World Leaders Forum.
Kevin Noe, a 1979 alumnus of Judson and current trustee who was instrumental in coordinating the World Leaders Forum, presented the painting to Dr. Cain.
“On behalf of the entire Judson family, we want to thank you for giving Judson University a vision. Thank you for giving the World Leaders Forum a chance. You could have easily said no. You may have even second-guessed it, but at critical times, you breathed life into it,” Noe said.
This Founders’ Day was Dr. Cain’s last as president of Judson University. In September, Dr. Cain announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.
Dr. Cain concluded the luncheon by quoting Adoniram Judson, who was once asked by a colleague on a return trip to the United States from his missionary post in Burma what he would do if he ever chose to stay in his home country, “I would invest in a small Christian college, and help them pave the way for the future.”
Adoniram’s words aptly express the sentiment shared on campus for the school’s 48th Founders’ Day as Judson honored several key community members and shared plans for the school’s future growth.
The day's events concluded with a performance of Judson University Theater's fall musical, “Children of Eden.” For those who did not attend Friday night's performance, additional performances will be held at 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 29 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 30. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for students, $8 for seniors and groups of 15 or more, and can be ordered by calling 847-628-2625.
Located in Elgin, Ill., Judson University offers a Christian, liberal arts education through its four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees for more than 60 other majors/minors, graduate programs, online, certification and accelerated adult degree programs. A Preview Overnight of programs will be held November 10-11 for students interested in learning more about Judson’s academic programs.