Judson College trustees vote to keep the school open

By: Jennifer Rash

The Alabama Baptist

MARION, Ala. (BP) – Campus life will continue at the 183-year-old Judson College despite recent fundraising efforts coming up more than $3.7 million short of the $5 million goal for March.

The decision was made during a special-called board meeting April 2.

“No decision by this board is ever taken lightly,” said board chair Joan Newman. “Today’s vote is the outcome of months of interviews, research, fundraising and, yes, prayer. We accept as a group God’s call to boldness.

“Now, the work continues to ensure a Christian education that affords young women opportunities to learn and to lead.”

Sharing the news with students, faculty and staff – and others who were on campus awaiting the results, Newman said, “God’s not done. I’m really thrilled to tell you that Judson will be around for a long time.”

Prior to the meeting, the board heard from President Mark Tew about “balancing the responsible with the possible.”

“God has given us all a great gift in positioning us to do what few ever have the chance to attempt, let alone actually accomplish; with faith and dependence upon God, it is time to balance the responsible with the possible,” Tew wrote in an email to board members.

During the meeting, board members also learned about potential new donor relationships being nurtured.

Following about 90 minutes of discussion, the 24-member board voted 14 to 5 to move forward and approved the college’s $9.1 million budget for the 2021–2022 academic year, which begins June 1. Four board members were not present for the vote, and one abstained from voting.

The board also voted unanimously to affirm the leadership and work of Judson’s president and staff members and expressed support for them going forward.

The newly adopted 2021–2022 budget includes action items for selected recommendations of Fuller Higher Ed Solutions, a firm engaged in December to explore potential paths forward for the college.

Fuller’s findings indicated two choices for Judson — to close “with dignity” or to “invest in turnaround.”

“The board and administration are excited about the future of providing women’s education from a biblically informed Christian worldview,” Tew said.

Tew called the generosity of those who love and appreciate Judson’s unique mission “overwhelming” and said he is excited about the renewed emphasis on Alabama Baptist’s “treasure,” which happens to be the only evangelical Christian women’s college in America.

Prior to the meeting, Judson students, alumnae and friends gathered to prayer walk the campus. They later gathered in the chapel to await the trustees’ decision. In the days leading up to today’s meeting, students also stepped up with their own prayer efforts.

Student leader Stephanie Woodard organized and encouraged pre-meal silent prayer sessions in the chapel several days last week.

Student Government President Anna Johnson emailed the student body the morning of the meeting with an encouraging message.

“I want to encourage you to be praying for our leaders, one another, the staff and faculty, the alumna, and anyone that loves Judson and may [have] been impacted by our beloved school,” Johnson wrote.

“We as students have been given this time and these burdens to bear while at Judson. Just as other women attending Judson were given Jewett fires, wars and economic depressions, we have been given this unprecedented time where we must stand firm and pray for the school that we love.”

Tew announced in an email in December of last year that the school was on the brink of closure without significant cash donations.

This article was written by Jennifer Rash and was originally published at thealabamabaptist.org.

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