Grambling President's Surprise Departure PDF Print E-mail
By Imani Jackson -- Black College Wire   

Grambling State University has announced the resignation of University President Horace Judson,  effective Oct. 31, the day of Grambling State's homecoming game.

Though many question the timing of the decision -- the announcement came exactly 10 days before the effective date --Judson's administration is noted for increased academic standards, improved student-housing, creation of Grambling's Center for Mathematical Achievement in Science and Technology, the Tiger Fund scholarship and beginning construction of a Performing Arts Center.

Darryl D. Smith/The Gramblinite
Horace Judson
"Undeniably, President Judson has left his footprint on our Grambling campus. Under his tenure the university has built state-of-the-art dormitories, a student union, assembly center, and many other improvements," said University of Louisiana System Board Member Mildred Gallot in a press release announcing the resignation.

"When I began as president at GSU, I made a commitment to serve for five years," said Judson in the press release. "I am proud of all that has been accomplished, and I consider it a privilege to have served as President of GSU."

Judson, who received his A.B. in chemistry from Lincoln University and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Cornell University upped the university admission criteria.

"For me, excellence is not some absolute standard; it is not perfection. It is a measure of the difference between potential and performance. It is a measure of the narrowness of the gap," Judson said in his Grambling State inaugural address in 2004.

"The challenge for individuals and institutions is to avoid overestimating performance and underestimating potential."
University of Louisiana System representatives had kind words about Judson. 

Grambling students had varied reactions to Judson's departure."Did Jesus come back?" asked Quantreus Hayes, a sociology senior from West Monroe.

"How are we not going to have a president?" asked Sequoia Diggs, a social work junior from Las Vegas. " Who's stepping up? People are happy that Judson is gone … Grambling is slowly deteriorating."

"Let's make the best of this. Right now we're in a pool of opportunity," said Jonathan Allen, a management freshman from New Iberia.

"I'm interested in how this is going to affect the reaffirmation of our accreditation," said Keith Brown, a criminal justice senior from Richmond, Calif.

"I'm not saying I'm happy that he's gone but if the best thing for Grambling is for him to leave, then I'm happy," said Dujuan Lockett, a biology senior from Shreveport.

"Judson's the face of the business, Grambling State University. So it's easy to blame him, but people need to understand it isn't solely his plans," said Benjamin Gray, a drafting design junior from Prince George's County, Maryland. "He has to take into consideration other people's ideas before making rules and regulations, such as parking."

"I'm glad he's gone and hope we get a better person than him," said Joy Butler a child development senior from New Orleans.

"Presidents have come and gone," said Helen Richard Smith, a 1944 graduate of Grambling State, who still resides in Grambling. "Grambling is going to stand after Judson leaves. It stood before he came."

"If you look at the landscape of campus now compared with 2004 you clearly see transformation in the overall appearance of the campus," said state representative Rick Gallot. "I think that has been good for the university."

"I would like to stress that there have been challenges, but I appreciate those positive results of his presidency. I want to wish him well."

Some challenges Judson faced included the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, who were slated to present symbolic votes of confidence or no confidence in the Judson administration.

Judson experienced similar issues as president of Plattsburgh State University in New York, where he also resigned. He left Plattsburgh State in 2003 and was appointed to the Grambling State presidency in 2004.

Students and faculty there expressed concerns regarding his hiring practices and what they believed to be isolation from the community, according to a news source near Plattsburgh State.

The same concerns were cited in the Grambling community. Many wonder if Judson has a pattern of resignation and controversy.

A hot-button Grambling issue is construction of a $158,000 fence in front of the president's house. More than 500 students opposed the fence's construction in a Facebook group. Judson defended construction of the fence.

"There have been real security and safety issues with that property and that house," said Judson in an impromptu meeting with students on Aug. 31.

He said that there were specific funds allocated for adjustments to the house.

"It was there when I came. It will be there when I leave," Judson said of the residence.

Many hope Judson left the Grambling house in order before resigning.

"Indicative of his leadership, President Judson ensured all pending accreditation reports were completed prior to any public announcement. Grambling is a thriving institution thanks to his service," said UL System President Randy Moffett in an announcement from the Grambling State Public Relations office.

"I believe that this is a good juncture for me to complete my tenure and focus on my family," Judson said in a press release.
Students want to see how the leadership change will affect them.

"My only concern is our accreditation," said Arsenio Wilborn, a psychology junior from Long Beach, Calif. "I just want my degree to count."

Imani Jackson is editor of The Gramblinite, the Grambling State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Oct. 23, 2009
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