Judson College will have a spring 2021 semester thanks to a successful end-of-the-year fundraising effort.
The Judson College Board of Trustees convened Dec. 31 and approved moving forward with a residential spring semester for all returning students.
On Dec. 15, Judson College President Mark Tew made an appeal to individuals for financial help, announcing that the college would need $500,000 in unrestricted cash donations and $1 million in unrestricted commitments of gifts between January 1 and May 31, 2021, in order to begin and then complete the spring 2021 semester.
Judson alumnae and friends mobilized quickly to secure the needed funds, and the Judson community surpassed the initial cash goal of $500,000 on Dec. 28. As of Dec. 31, the combined giving and commitment total is near $1.4 million, according to a Judson news release.
Due to the potential surge of coronavirus cases after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the start date of the spring semester will be moved to Jan. 20, Judson announced.
Tew told TAB Media in a Dec. 28 interview that Judson officials are encouraged by the response and advocacy taking place among students, faculty, staff, board members, alumnae and friends.
“Our board of trustees … felt strongly that we needed to do everything we could to honor our commitments and be engaged in those things that brought glory to God, to do everything decently and in order, even if that meant we had to close the institution … so no one would besmirch the Baptist name through Christian higher education,” Tew said. “So the board of trustees went to bottom line, our liquidity needs, our cash needs to be able to operate with solvency during the spring semester. That’s where those two numbers came from … the necessary cash requirements to meet our obligations.”
Judson is now planning a fall 2021 session as well, and trustees will continue to review the college’s financial position in coming months.
Quick glance at the numbers
Judson operates on an annual roughly $9 million budget with 76 employees. Most expenses go to academics followed closely by care of the campus for the 182-year-old institution.
Current enrollment is at 177 students. The school has been in an enrollment decline since 2008, and officials anticipate continued decline going into 2021 because of restrictions on recruiting activities with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as concern over the future of the school.
While Judson does have a board-operated endowment of $9.8 million, and another more than $6 million in perpetual trusts held by others, including The Baptist Foundation of Alabama, almost all of these funds are donor-restricted for scholarships. Judson does use earnings from the endowments as part of its annual income, along with students’ tuition and fees, about $1 million provided from gifts through the Cooperative Program, and $500,000 to $800,000 from donations.
With a bit of breathing room related to the upcoming semester and confidence the current seniors will indeed graduate from Judson, officials are ready to focus on what happens following the 2021 graduation. Fuller Higher Ed Solutions has already begun work toward a strategy report for the future of Judson for the board of trustees in late February.
To watch the Dec. 28 interview with Tew, click here.
To read the initial article about the financial appeal at Judson, click here.
To learn more about Judson College, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was updated on Jan. 4, 2021, to report on the decisions made by the Judson College board of trustees on Dec. 31, 2020.
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