Judson was a trailblazer

The Pasco-Hernando State College community is mourning the recent death of Dr. Robert Judson Jr., the college’s second president.

The educator began his career at Pasco-Hernando State College in 1972, when the college was a community college — known as the college without walls — and was in the process of opening its doors to Pasco and Hernando county communities, according to a news release from the state college.

Dr. Robert Judson Jr., was a trailblazer at the college now known as Pasco-Hernando State College. When he was there, it was Pasco-Hernando Community College, and Judson made Florida history by becoming the first black to be named president of a community college in the Florida Community College System. (Courtesy of PHSC)

Judson was hired as the college’s first instructor and counselor/recruiter, subsequently teaching the first course the college ever offered.

The following year, Judson moved into a role as the college’s first coordinator of financial aid, where he wrote grants for student aid programs and was responsible for veterans’ affairs.

He received his doctoral degree in education in 1976, and in 1977 became dean at East Campus. In 1983, he took on the role of East Campus provost, followed by college vice president and executive vice president, according to the release.

In 1994, Judson succeeded Dr. Milton O. Jones — the man who had hired him — and made Florida history by becoming the first black to be named president of a community college in the Florida Community College System.

Under Judson’s leadership, the college experienced exponential growth.

“Bob Judson was a remarkable leader,” Timothy L. Beard, Ph.D., current PHSC president, said in the release. “He worked his way up the ladder, knew every inch of the college, understood our students, and helped realize the college’s potential.  He was admired and respected for his vision and his authenticity.”

Judson opened a three-story health building, housing state-of-the-art equipment on the college’s West Campus. He also helped establish radiography, and drafting and design programs still popular today.

Judson also led the building of a child care center on West Campus.

He opened the Public Service Technology building on East Campus in Dade City, where aviation, law enforcement and corrections, and fire academy programs are currently housed.

He remodeled North Campus in Brooksville.

And, he purchased the land for a permanent Spring Hill Campus, which was erected in 2010.

Judson also facilitated a partnership with the University of South Florida to offer formal four-year degree programs on PHSC campuses.

In an interview for the College’s 30-year anniversary commemorative book, he said: “I want to be known as a president who intelligently expands the college for the good of all concerned.”

He added: “I hope I’m remembered as a president who was sensitive to the needs of our students, faculty and staff. Most of all, I hope I’ve distinguished myself as a president who helped make PHSC a great college, and a wonderful place to learn and work.”

Beard, who now holds the same role as Judson once held, put it like this: “The college community will remember his leadership. He will always have a place in college history, and in the hearts and minds of the many PHSC faculty, staff and students he influenced.”

A funeral service is planned for Judson on Sept. 29 at 12:30 p.m., at Hopewell Baptist Church, at 890 N.W. 15th St., in  Pompano Beach.

PHSC is planning a memorial service to honor Judson on Oct. 9 at 1 p.m., at the PHSC Performing Arts Center on its West Campus, at 10230 Ridge Road in New Port Richey.

Published September 26, 2018

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