Meet the University Cabinet
The University Cabinet is selected by the president to coordinate and advance the mission of Judson University. The team consists of cabinet members and other senior leaders from various operational areas. Dr. Gene C. Crume Jr., president, relies on this team for core leadership decisions and works closely with each member. The University Cabinet includes:
Dr. Gene Crume, Jr.
Dr. Gene C. Crume, Jr. became Judson University’s sixth president in April 2013. Since arriving at Judson, Dr. Crume led the University through its first comprehensive strategic planning process. The Board of Trustees approved the plan, Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for Judson University, 2014-2019, in February 2014. He has also helped secure $11.84 million in gifts from individual donors since arriving at Judson in support of the strategic plan. During his tenure, overall enrollment has increased by 4.5% and over a half dozen new academic programs have been developed as well as men’s volleyball and football.
Mrs. Kristen Egan
Vice President for Advancement and Alumni
Kristen Egan was promoted to Vice President for Advancement beginning July 1, 2018. As a member of the Leadership Team, she advances the strategies to build resource and development capacity, as well as leads Advancement, Alumni, World Leaders Forum and special events functions.
Since 2016, Kristen has worked to build donor relationships and capacity for the university. Over the last two years, she has focused on developing a foundation strategy and integrated planned giving program, strengthening the annual fund, establishing best practices for data collection and gift acceptance, as well as providing leadership to the Advancement team.
Kristen has more than 20 years of experience working in fundraising and marketing communications with Meyer Partners, the Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
Dr. Nikki Fennern
Executive Vice President
Dr. Nikki Fennern has been a leader in the higher education industry for over 20 years. Currently, Dr. Fennern serves as the Executive Vice President at Judson University in which she oversees adult, online, graduate, and traditional enrollment; financial aid; marketing; and intercollegiate athletics. During her time at the university, she has analyzed and implemented campus initiatives strategically and holistically while collaborating with each area of the university to advance strategic goals and vision. Dr. Fennern is currently leading an initiative to reorganize the university’s online, adult, and graduate programs to move operations from an external partner to internal control. She collaborates with external constituents to develop strategic partnerships for adult, graduate, and undergraduate enrollment. Through a campus-wide approach to recruitment, incoming classes have met deposit and budget goals while meeting or exceeding institutional discount rate goals. Dr. Fennern has also been involved with university-wide strategic planning, reaccreditation processes, and developing campus-wide corporate sponsorships. Intercollegiate athletics has seen growth in student-athletes, competitive success, and the launch of a football program while attending to building a strong culture integrated into the whole of the university. Dr. Fennern oversaw the construction of an artificial turf soccer/football field and practice track and has taught as an adjunct professor in the Exercise and Sport Science department.
Prior to Judson University, Dr. Fennern served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Iowa Wesleyan University. There, she led the enrollment division which included admission, financial aid, and intercollegiate athletics. During her tenure, she restructured recruitment processes and developed a campus-wide plan to grow undergraduate enrollment through strategies collaborating with academics, admissions, international recruitment, and athletics. She co-chaired the university-wide Persistence and Completion Council. The university achieved deposit goals and persistence goals and grew overall enrollment during her tenure. In conjunction with the athletic director, she helped to lay the groundwork for starting men’s and women’s wrestling and moving the athletic department from NCAA Division III to NAIA.
Dr. Fennern earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University, a master’s degree in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation: Athletic Administration from South Dakota State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Visit here for her full biography.
Mrs. Virginia (Ginny) Guth
Vice President for Student Success and Registrar
Virginia (Ginny) Guth began serving as Associate Vice President for Student Success in fall 2013 and became the Vice President for Student Success and University Registrar in June 2019. Ginny has 20 years of experience in higher education, beginning her career serving as a records coordinator where she identified her passion for serving students. Serving as registrar at Judson, she led both curriculum and the university academic policy committees. Her desire to improve processes allowed her the opportunity to lead the implementation of a campus-wide, student-focused, web portal, more commonly known on campus as MyJudson. This self-service portal allows students to register for classes, view transcripts, track graduation requirements, and view a campus calendar of events.
Ginny earned her bachelor’s degree in human services in 2002 and her master’s degree in organizational leadership in 2008, with an emphasis in academic advising, at Judson. During her service as Vice President, she has focused on student retention by redesigning the Student Success Center and its services, establishing the Writing Center, and instituting graduation plans for all incoming students.
Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells
Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells, Ph.D. joined the University Cabinet as Provost and Chief Academic Officer in October 2018. Since arriving at Judson in 2008, Dr.Stewart-Wells has been a Professor in Judson’s undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs; and, for eight years, she co-directed Judson’s first doctoral program. In her tenure at Judson, she served as Faculty Moderator, Chairs of both Strategic Planning and Graduate Academic Policies Committee, and as a member of President’s Advisory Council, Academic Cabinet, Campus Diversity Initiative, University Assessment, and the Institutional Review Board. In addition, in 2013, she coordinated efforts to earn Higher Learning Commission approval for the Doctor of Education in Literacy program.
Born and raised in Chicago and the northwest suburbs, Dr. Stewart-Wells earned a B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago, an M.Ed. in Education Administration/Multicultural Approaches from the University of Hawaii, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration/Social Justice from Claremont Graduate University/San Diego State University. She completed post-doctoral work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and engaged in research design as a researcher/analyst with the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Prior to coming to Judson University, Dr. Stewart-Wells held teaching and administrative positions in Secondary and Post-secondary Education, including Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction, Dean of Students, Department Chair, and Program Director. From private CCCU institutions such as Gordon College (Wenham, MA) to larger public institutions like the University of Hawaii, Dr. Stewart-Wells has gained university experience in five states: Illinois, Hawaii, California, New York, and Massachusetts. Her scholarship agenda has focused largely on social justice education and leadership in higher education.
Mrs. Sarah Taylor
Vice President of Business Affairs
Prior to becoming Vice President of Business Affairs at Judson, Sarah worked for three years as the University’s Controller. She also worked for CapinCrouse, LLP, an audit firm in Wheaton, Ill., as a Senior Audit Manager before joining the Judson team. In her role, Sarah was responsible for planning and executing audits, compliance, internal controls review and financial analysis and reporting.
Sarah has been a member on various boards including DCI International and the United Way of Elgin and holds a Master’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Illinois.
Mr. Nick Salzmann
Vice President of CAmpus Operations
In this role, Nick oversees Campus Safety EMS, Plant Operations, Health Services, and the Campus Post Office, as well as Title IX and Clery Act compliance. Nick is a Judson University alum ’07 and has worked for Judson since 2007. Most recently Nick led the transition of the Plant Operations department from an outside vendor to an in-house department in 2022.
Nick is also a licensed firefighter paramedic, serving with the Carpentersville Fire Department, and resides with his wife, Lynn, and daughter, Eleanor, in Downer’s Grove, Ill.