Gordon in the News: last updated 09/13/2010

R. Judson Carlberg, Seventh President of Gordon College, Announces 2011 Retirement

August 26, 2010
Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications
[email protected]

WENHAM, MA—After 35 years of service at Gordon College, President R. Judson Carlberg, Ph.D., has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2011. Under Carlberg’s 19-year tenure as president, the College has experienced substantial growth and recognition for its academic excellence, global programs and campus facilities.

“For the last few years, my wife, Jan, and I have known we were in a season of transition, a season of anticipating our stepping down from leadership at Gordon College,” Carlberg said recently in a campus gathering of students, faculty and staff. “Yet as we enter this time of transition, I remain optimistic about Gordon’s future. We have the strongest leadership team and faculty that I have seen here at Gordon. Many new trustees are now serving on the board, bringing new ideas, substantial resources and a heart for Christian higher education in New England. But we will miss this place, the place we call home.”

Carlberg’s trademark commitment to academic freedom began when he first came to Gordon in 1976 from Michigan, where he’d served as academic provost of John Wesley College. He was only 35 years old at the time. As dean of Gordon’s faculty, Carlberg led a faculty development program that won national recognition and recruited top professors in their fields.

Robert Judson Carlberg was named Gordon's seventh president in 1992.

Since then, numerous faculty research projects and distinctive academic programs have grown as a direct result of his advocacy and support. From the visual and theatre arts to music, sciences and political studies, Carlberg’s philosophy of truthful inquiry and scholarly integrity became lynchpins for shaping Gordon’s national reputation of academic excellence.

“Jud Carlberg’s leadership contributions as president have been significant to the growth and vision of Gordon College,” says Kurt A. Keilhacker, chair of the Board of Trustees since 2005. “He has inspired a high level of commitment to scholarship while remaining true to the Christian values that have anchored the College since A. J. Gordon began it in 1889. We will miss his tireless presence and faithful service to the great mission of equipping young women and men for worldwide Christian leadership, but we know the foundation he helped build will provide a strong future for Gordon College.”

Total base enrollment grew 37 percent between 1976 and 2009. Three master’s degree programs as well as 17 new undergraduate majors and 13 minors were established, while global education opportunities were expanded.

As a result of Carlberg’s vision to provide cross-cultural learning experiences for students, and as part of his longstanding support of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ study-abroad programs, Carlberg actively participated in the development of the CCCU’s Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica. And Gordon now offers over 20 approved programs as well as the College’s own semester-long programs in foreign languages, the arts, urban studies and experiential education. Gordon in Aix (France) and Gordon in Orvieto (Italy) began in the1990s, and this spring will mark the advent of Gordon in Romania. Carlberg also led the College’s return to its urban roots by establishing academic initiatives in Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts. Both the Gordon in Boston and the Gordon in Lynn programs focus on urban engagement, community service and international community.

Short-term summer and January seminars enable students to deepen their understanding of biblical (Israel), environmental (Honduras/Nicaragua/Haiti), Classical (Greece), and theatre (Britain) studies, to name but a few. Because of Carlberg’s commitment to allowing students to take their Gordon scholarship aid off-campus, student participation in study-abroad programs has grown to nearly 40 percent compared to the national average, which is closer to two percent. Carlberg’s practical vision of equipping students to better understand and serve in the world has shaped hundreds of Gordon students.
“Jud is an example of the kind of people the College hopes to graduate: ‘men and women of intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide,’” says Mrs. Bronwyn E. Loring, a member of the Board of Trustees since 1990, who was on the Presidential Search Committee that chose Carlberg. “That’s how Jud has lived his life. Under his guidance Gordon continues to stand out among colleges for encouraging students to pursue the truth about any matter. His steadiness over these years, when all educational institutions have been challenged in so many ways, is due primarily to his Christian faith, and the obvious gift he has for leadership. He has been the right person at the right time for Gordon.”    

Before his move to the presidency, Carlberg was appointed in 1990 to the role of senior vice president for development. There he began his legacy of campus-wide building initiatives by supporting then-President Richard Gross with the completion of the capital campaign and construction of the 1,600-seat A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel, a vibrant space for campus life and community events.

During Carlberg's presidency, the College increased total giving five-fold, which resulted in a substantial increase in scholarship aid as well as the new Bennett Athletics and Recreation Center, the Phillips Music Center and the Barrington Center for the Arts. Four new residence halls—Tavilla, Chase, Fulton and Nyland Halls—were added between 1998 and 2003 and interior renovations were completed in three previously existing residence halls. In 2005 the Brigham Athletic Complex was completed.

Indicative of his ongoing commitment to the sciences, Carlberg also helped secure the creation of the Ken Olsen Science Center, an 80,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. Phase One of the facility opened in August 2008 and included biology, engineering, ecology, marine biology and chemistry labs, faculty offices, and an auditorium.

During the dedication of the Ken Olsen Science Center, Dr. Francis S. Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and current director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke specifically of the interface between science and faith while affirming Gordon’s commitment to the study of all the sciences.“Especially in a time when the next years will be so important, the need to have more educational experiences like yours could not be more apparent,” Collins said. “This beautiful building stands for a future of science and faith working in tandem.”

Phase Two of the Ken Olsen Science Center began in 2009, adding new labs, classrooms and office space for botany, computer science, physics, mathematics and psychology, and is slated for completion in 2011-2012.

“I’ve long appreciated Jud’s leadership, friendship and vision and all he’s given to Gordon College,” said Thomas Phillips, retired chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company and member of Gordon’s Board of Trustees since 1968. “Without his wisdom and commitment to Christian higher education, many young people might not have had the opportunity to pursue their callings on such a fine campus as Gordon. Jud’s 35 years of service at Gordon have been remarkable and instrumental to the future of the College.”

Carlberg has traveled extensively to speak on higher education leadership issues and has served on a number of distinguished boards including Council for Higher Education Accreditation; National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Christian College Consortium; and Denver Seminary. In 1999 he was one of only 50 college presidents nationwide honored by the John Templeton Foundation for leadership in character development.

A native of Fall River, Massachusetts, he holds degrees from Wheaton College in Illinois (B.A.), Denver Seminary (M.Div.) and Michigan State University (M.A., Ph.D.). He and his wife, Jan, an author and speaker, have two grown children and four grandchildren. Upon retirement, they will relocate to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where they will rest, fish and consider new opportunities in helping other campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Gordon College is a multidenominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore, offering majors in 36 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is nationally recognized for excellence in academics and in character building, and ranks as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges. www.gordon.edu