The Legacy of Dr. Jerry Cain | Judson University Christian College


The Legacy of Dr. Jerry B. Cain

Jerry CainJudson University President Jerry B. Cain retired on June 30, 2012. Dr. Cain, who has served as Judson’s president since 1998, made his formal announcement to the Judson Board of Trustees in August and to the larger Judson community at the annual university employee recognition luncheon last August.

“After 37 years in Baptist higher education, and after talking in-depth with Linda, feel it is time to relinquish my leadership role at Judson University,” stated Dr. Cain. “It has been a great honor to lead this godly institution, and I hope to make the 2011-2012 school year one of the best in Judson’s history.”

Cain commented that he is deeply grateful for the opportunity to fulfill his calling to Christian higher education at Judson and will follow the lead of his four predecessors by remaining a strong advocate for the University.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Carol Thompson, Board Chair and a 1977 Judson graduate, noted, “We are so thankful for all Dr. Cain has done to advance the mission and purpose of Judson University. He has been a passionate ambassador locally, nationally and internationally for Judson, and his love for this institution has been evident in his tireless efforts to expand its impact.”

During Dr. Cain’s leadership, Judson has moved from a college to a university, launched four master’s programs, received successful accreditation reviews and experienced growth in enrollment.

Dr. Cain effectively led several major capital projects, including the construction of the Harm A. Weber Academic Center; the completion of the Lindner Center, Creekside South for the School of education, and the Rockford Campus; renovation of the Science and Mathematics Center, the Browne University Center, and the Alice and Edward Thompson Fine Arts Center; and upgrades to the softball and baseball fields.

“Dr. Cain successfully led Judson through one of the most challenging economic times in our nation’s history, “stated Pastor Nat Edmond, trustee and chair of the Judson Board’s External Relations Committee. “The expansion of the campus and consistent enrollment is a testimony to his skills, talent and commitment to Judson. We praise God for his dedicated leadership, and I pray God’s blessings upon him and Linda as they move into the next phase of what God has for them.”

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.

“Both Dr. and Mrs. Cain have devoted their lives during these past 13 years to the successful development of our beloved university,” stated Thompson. “The Board of Trustees desires to fully honor this wonderful couple throughout their final year with us and to celebrate their years of outstanding service.”

Cain is the fifth president at Judson. Born in California, Cain spent his early childhood in Texas before moving to New Mexico where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in religion and psychology from Eastern New Mexico University. Upon earning his Master’s degree in religion and historical ethics from Baylor University in Texas, Dr. Cain pursued additional graduate studies at Midwestern Seminary and St. Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas City and Regent’s Park College in Oxford, England. He received three honorary degrees –Doctor of Sacred Theology from William Jewell College in Missouri, Doctor of Divinity from Central Baptist Seminary in Kansas, and a Doctor of Humanities from Nigeria Bible College and Seminary.

After a four-year inner-city and youth ministry in Albuquerque, Cain began a career in higher education, serving at Wayland Baptist University in Texas; New Mexico Highlands University; and William Jewell College, before coming to Judson as president.

His heart for ministry, missions, and service has been demonstrated through his volunteer work with First Baptist Church of Elgin and on the boards of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Educational Assistance Limited, and American Baptist Churches USA.

Trustee Bruce Strom, Executive Director for Administer Justice in Elgin, has observed this first hand. Bruce commented, “Dr. Cain’s been a well-known fixture in the Elgin landscape. He created a legacy of service with the Elgin community that has benefitted both Elgin and Judson. I know many service organizations, schools and businesses welcome Judson students because they reflect the heart of their President, who reflects the heart of Christ, in service and excellence.”

Judson is currently engaged in the search for its sixth President who will continue to lead the university in its mission as an evangelical Christian university that represents the Church at work in higher education, equipping students to be fully developed, responsible persons who glorify God by the quality of their personal relationships, their work, and their citizenship within the community, the nation and the world.

Judson University was founded nearly a century ago as part of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. When the seminary portion of Northern moved from Chicago to Lombard in the early 1960s, the founders decided to make the college an independent entity. Under the guidance of college and seminary president, Dr. Benjamin P. Browne, a new school was founded along the shores of the Fox River in 1963 and named after Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to serve abroad.

Today, the university is home to over 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students coming from more than 30 states and 25 countries. From its humble beginnings on a 19-acre private estate, Judson has expanded to become a beautiful 90-acre campus nestled in the Fox River Valley, just 45 miles away from Chicago. For more information about Judson University, visit

Accomplishments 1998-2012

Judson University has accomplished many things under President Jerry B. Cain’s watchful and prayerful time in leadership. Below are a list of accomplishments that celebrate his achievements as well as the contributions of so many individuals who have worked tirelessly to build a campus and community that lives out Judson’s mission to be the Church at Work in Higher Education as well as our motto, Christus lux Mundi – Christ, Light of the World.

Bricks and Sticks ($250,000 and above)

  • Build-outs: Floors two, three, five plus the kitchen/classroom area of Lindner Tower
  • New Construction: Creekside South, Rockford Campus, Harm A. Weber Academic Center, Softball Field
  • Refurbished: Alice and Ed Thompson Center, Center for Science and Mathematics, Hoffer Baseball Field, Volkman Hall, Bathrooms in Ohio Hall
  • Secured resources for future enhancements
    • Tyler Creek bank stabilization 2012 ($250,000)
    • Ohio Hall renovation in 2013 ($1,000,000)
    • Wilson Hall renovation in 2014 ($1,000,000)
    • Lindner Commons expansion TBD ($1,050,000)

Academic Accomplishments and Programs

  • Successfully made transition from Judson College to Judson University
  • Graduate Programs: Masters in Architecture, Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, Master of Education in Bilingual/ESL, Master of Education in Literacy
  • School of Education – English as a Second Language, Bilingual, Literacy, Early Childhood, Hard of Hearing, LBS1, Certificate Only
  • School of Leadership and Business – Management of Technology Systems, Sustainability Management, Management of Communications
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences – Environmental Studies, Biochemistry, Applied Christian Ministry
  • 50 of Judson’s 70 full time faculty were hired in the past 14 years
  • Graduated 4,057 Bachelors and 390 Masters degrees
  • Successfully completed 8 of 9 accreditations
  • Leadership Program (Dave Cook)

General Notes

  • 24 of Judson’s 28 trustees joined the Board in the past 14 years
  • US News and World Report from unranked to number 20 of 185 in top tier
  • Daily Herald Award for Best College or University 2010, 2011
  • Daily Herald Award for Best Workplace 2011
  • Earned Elgin Image Awards over 3 separate years
  • Expanded summer use of facilities
  • Building traditions and ceremonial events: Opening Convocation, Commencement, Founders Day, bagpipes, printed materials, website, Community Standards, Community Presence, Prayer for the Graduates, learning and singing alma mater
  • Alumni Board. Cruise. Homecoming. Regional alumni gatherings.

Student Development

  • Start of the University Ministries student organization
  • Athletics
    • Began 11 new sports
    • 15 appearances in NAIA National Tournaments
    • 15 appearances in NCCAA National Tournaments
    • 2 NCCAA national championships
    • 60 NAIA Scholar Athletes
    • 85 NCCAA Scholar Athletes

Hosted state, national and international political leaders

  • U.S. Senator Paul Simon
  • U.S. Senator Richard Durbin
  • U.S. Senator Roland Burris
  • U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
  • Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar
  • Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich
  • Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert
  • Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn
  • U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren
  • U.S. Representative Bill Foster
  • Launched the World Leaders Forum that has brought World Leaders such as Former U.S. President George W. Bush and Former President of USSR Mikhail Gorbachev

Dr. Cain's Unique Involvements and Memberships

  • Member, First Baptist Church, Elgin, Illinois
  • Member, Elgin Noon Rotary Club
  • Board Member, Educational and Institutional Insurance Company (EIIA)
  • Board Member, American Baptist Churches, USA
  • Board Member, National Ministries, American Baptist Churches, USA
  • Chair of Board of Directors, Elgin Symphony Orchestra
  • President, American Baptist Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Board Member, Education Assistance Limited, EAL
  • Member, League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Spoke publically about 540 times over 14 years

Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World