A singing of “There’ll Always be a Judson” closed out a day of activities for alumnae and friends who gathered May 22 to say goodbye to Judson College, which is closing July 31 after 183 years of educating young women.
Photo by Travis Frontz

Judson faithful gather on campus for goodbyes

Over 425 students and alumnae filled the Judson College campus in Marion on May 22 for one last Step Sing and a time of sharing memories of their time on campus.

Step Sing is a Judson tradition where alumnae and current students sing together from a canon of songs that have been learned and passed down by each generation of Judson students.

Claire Kinnaird Keel, president of the Judson College Alumnae Association, called the event “This is Goodbye and not Goodnight.”

The Judson faithful arrived on campus from across the United States to visit “Mother Judson” after learning the institution will close July 31 after 183 years of educating young women.

In remembrance of past dress codes, some of the attendees wore dresses and hats, which were once required attire for church on Sunday mornings. Many wore strands of pearls, another signature accessory in the Judson tradition.

Day of remembrance

During the day, alumnae walked through the auditorium where they attended concerts, plays, pageants and graduations.

They visited the chapel, where they attended weekly services and listened to guest speakers in the light of pastel-tinted windows and with music from the pipe organ.

They mingled in Jewett Hall, the site of numerous Christmas teas over the years, as well as the home of many campus offices and the campus dining hall.

And they crowded the bookstore, purchasing Judson shirts and remaining pieces of the Judson china, a special pattern by Wedgwood featuring scenes of Judson that was first sold in 1941.

Those gathered shared laughter and tears as they expressed their love for the buildings, the school, faculty, education, sisterhood and traditions.


Traditions also closed the day’s events. Seniors and alumnae serenaded underclassmen under the senior oak. At noon, everyone gathered on the steps of Jewett Hall for one last Step Sing.

One of the traditional songs, “Tell Me Why,” summed up the emotions of many alumnae and students in the wake of the school’s closure.

However, for Judson alumnae, their families and all those who have called Judson home, the words of “There’ll Always be a Judson,” chosen to close the historic event, ring true: “There’ll always be a Judson, and Judson will ever be, if Judson means as much to you as Judson means to me.”

Click here to view of gallery of photos from the day.

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