Judson faculty, staff and guests on the platform lead the graduates in the procession prior to the commencement.
Photo by Travis Frontz

Judson celebrates graduation, investiture of Tew as college’s 23rd president

When Judson College’s 23rd president W. Mark Tew started his new role in fall 2019, he was uniquely qualified, said Joan V. Newman, chair of Judson’s board of trustees.

Tew’s three daughters — Elyse Weeks, Clara Owenby and Nicole Bean — are all Judson graduates.

“He’s been on both sides of every college letter, every grade report, every student activity,” Newman told the crowd present for Judson’s spring commencement on June 27.

The commencement service doubled as an investiture ceremony for Tew, whose April inauguration was postponed because of COVID-19.

“When the board of trustees began to assemble the search committee … we first sought God’s guidance on who would serve. We all realized that identifying God’s choice to lead Judson College into the future was a tremendous responsibility and a heavenly task,” Newman said. “While his first year as president has had more than its share of trials and challenges, he has consistently proven that his selection was the answer to all those prayers.”

After Newman presented him with the president’s medallion and honored him and his wife, Ann, Tew told those present that he would “take seriously” the words inscribed on the medallion — God, authority, responsibility and accountability.

“I will place God first in all that we do,” Tew said, adding that he would be accountable “to everyone who believes there should always be a Judson.”

He then shifted the focus to the recipients of the 61 degrees conferred that day and challenged graduates to continue the “tremendous legacy” passed on to them.

Unlimited potential

“You are limited only by the extent of your imagination, your ambition, your creativity and most importantly, your dependence upon the leadership of God and the Holy Spirit that is willing to work daily in your lives,” Tew said.

During the service — held outside on the lawn of Jewett Hall because of COVID-19 concerns — graduates sat in chairs spaced six feet apart, with their family members spread out at a safe distance across the lawn.

Newman congratulated the class of 2020 for finishing well in the face of a senior year “that none of us could have imagined.”

“We applaud your fortitude and your perseverance in completing your degree and overcoming what I know was a very challenging end to this year,” she said.

Jennifer Davis Rash, president and editor-in-chief of TAB Media, served as commencement speaker, the first time a TAB editor has served in that role in 45 years. Before she spoke, Tew surprised Rash by presenting her with a doctor of humane letters, calling her “an individual who has worked tirelessly for Alabama Baptists, for Southern Baptists and for the kingdom of God.” (TAB)

For more information, see these stories:
My Rashionale — Commencement address to Judson College graduates
TAB Media’s Jennifer Rash granted honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Judson College