In 1976 members of the Gordon College Board of Trustees met to select a new dean of faculty, facing an option not unlike the one immortalized in Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken: two paths diverging, one less traveled and inviting a greater leap of faith in the person of a 35-year-old with a strong academic pedigree but limited administrative experience. The discussion was spirited and splintered. Finally a senior, respected member of the Search Committee expressed, “Let’s give the young man a chance.”
R. Judson Carlberg created a faculty development program that won national recognition. He distinguished himself as senior vice president for development, directing the campaign that produced A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel and culminating in his selection in 1992 as the seventh president of Gordon College. After 19 years at the helm of one of the best Christian colleges in the country—and leaving as Gordon’s longest serving administrator—his tenure validates the faith of those who took a chance on untapped potential, and highlights how God’s plan draws the right people at the right time.
Jud Carlberg’s legacy will showcase significant growth of Gordon’s campus; the expansion of student experiences academically, extracurricularly, and in global programming; and pushing boundaries in impacting culture with emphasis on Christian perspective in the arts and sciences.
Perhaps the less visible imprint of his presidency has been a leadership style of quiet confidence—the ability to express a vision for the future, bolster change and growth, bridge differences of opinion and lead where an institution needs to go, not where it expects to go. Jud Carlberg’s style reflects a hallmark of the Gordon ethos as expressed by Philipp Melanchthon: “In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”
Working in loving partnership, Jan Carlberg has her own memorable profile, marked by prolific writing, passionate storytelling, and an uncanny ability to reach impressionable students or weary staff with kind words, a note of encouragement or a shoulder to lean on. So what might be the fundamental Carlberg legacy? Men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, dedicated to lives of service, and prepared for leadership roles worldwide.
And so Gordon comes once again to roads diverging as we bid farewell to a trusted path of remarkable progress; and again commit our future to God’s grace and wisdom, trusting Him for the right people in the right place at the right time.