Submitted by Judson University
Judson University's campus was alive with activity in celebration of the institution's 49th Founders' Day on Oct. 26.
Festivities began with the annual Founders' Day convocation in Herrick Chapel at 10 a.m., where William M.B. Fleming Jr., president of Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, was awarded an honorary doctorate, followed by a keynote address from President Emeritus of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Paul R. Corts.
"To Judson's students, this high honor allows me to be an Eagle, that I too my soar to new heights," said Fleming, referring to the university's mascot.
Fleming was elected eighth president of Palm Beach Atlantic University on May 7, 2012, after serving as interim president for the previous 14 months. He joined Palm Beach Atlantic in 1992 as vice president for development and is well known in the field of higher education for his expertise in fundraising. He has had extensive involvement in civic organizations throughout the Palm Beach, Fla. area.
Corts spoke to chapel attendees on "Charting the Course for a Better Tomorrow," highlighting the ways that Judson's mission as "the church at work in higher education" will move the university forward into the next 50 years.
"Judson is a member of the CCCU that is truly committed to transforming the lives of students for Christ," said Corts. "We are thankful for this institution and their fulfillment of Christ-centered higher education."
Corts also addressed the students in the crowd, recounting quotes from presidents at secular institutions who have said that though they offer higher education, discovering life's meaning and the answers to life's biggest questions is up to the students themselves.
"At Judson, the faculty do not run from the big questions of life; we delight in them to help you develop your moral character," Corts addressed the students, "to help you see that life's meaning is found in serving others, not in binge-drinking from the cup of self-indulgence. We encourage you to integrate your faith with your vocation."
Corts closed his speech with this invocation to students, "The proudest accomplishment of Judson University is to see you take on the likeness of Christ, and we pray this for you."
Following the chapel service, at a luncheon held to honor Judson's donors and trustees, professor Robert D. Erickson of Elgin was given the Golden Eagle Award for his 51 years of service to Judson. Erickson is the last of Judson's founding full-time faculty, and is renowned for having never missed a single class in his entire career with Judson.
In 1961, while teaching New Testament Greek in the collegiate division of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Erickson became captivated by the vision of Benjamin P. Browne to move the college division of the seminary to Elgin and continue its ministry as Judson College. He is responsible for the drafting and designing of the Biblical Studies curriculum at the inception of Judson in 1963, the department for which he continues to teach today.
In receiving his award Erickson thanked his wife, Gladys, and several members of his family, as well as his fellow Judson colleagues for supporting him in his long career with the university. Erickson fondly recalled the humorous gift his daughter Susan gave him several years ago, a jacket printed with the words, "The last of the original Eagles, endangered but not extinct!"
"It is a true honor to be added to this recipient list for the Golden Eagle Award," said Erickson. "Our lives have been inextricably intertwined with the life of Judson, and I truly appreciate God's goodness for His provision for my family and the Judson family. May the Eagles never become extinct!"
Erickson earned his doctorate in New Testament and Early Christian Literature from the University of Chicago, his bachelor of divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and his bachelor of science from University of Minnesota.
Erickson is an ordained minister with the Baptist General Conference. He has served as the pastor of Hillside Baptist Church (now Crossroads Community Church) of Hillside, Ill., and as an interim minister for several other churches. He and Gladys are currently members of First Baptist Church of Geneva. Although he considers his experience at Judson to be a great way to invest his life, he has also taught (on a limited basis) selected courses at Northern Illinois University/Loyola University, College of St. Francis and Wheaton College.