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Last of founding faculty awarded at Judson U event

Dr. Robert D. EricksJudsprofessor Biblical Theological studies was honored Friday JudsUniversity with Golden Eagle Award for 51 years teaching service

Dr. Robert D. Erickson, Judson professor of Biblical and Theological studies, was honored Friday at Judson University, with the Golden Eagle Award for 51 years of teaching and service to the Judson community. October 26, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:38AM

ELGIN — Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy was president of the United States, Judson University Chancellor Jerry Cain remembered.

Fifty-one years ago, the culture was “flavored by the idealism of Camelot,” Cain said, and not just the picture-perfect young family in the White House but in the musical “Camelot.” The title song to that musical described it: “In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happy ever after-ing, than Camelot.”

Fifty-one years ago, Robert D. Erickson also started his teaching career in the collegiate division of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, he said. He later moved with the college division of the seminary to Elgin to establish what was then Judson College.

And, the chancellor said, through 10 U.S. presidents and six Judson University presidents (including Cain), Erickson “has shown us there is simply not a more congenial spot for happy ever after-ing than here at Judson.”

On Friday, Judson presented Erickson, the last of its founding full-time faculty, with its Golden Eagle Award for his 51 years of teaching and service to its community, during its Founders’ Day celebrations.

“Our lives have been inextricably intertwined with the life of Judson, and I truly appreciate God’s goodness for His provision for my family and the Judson family,” Erickson said.

Judson itself is celebrating 49 years in Elgin and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary is marking 99, according to Judson. And 2012 also marks 199 years since the university’s namesake, missionary Adoniram Judson, first arrived to Burma, now Myanmar.

The university already is looking forward to next year’s anniversary celebrations, including the publication of a new book about its history, according to Judson.

Meantime, it started this Founders’ Day — themed “Charting a Course for a Better Tomorrow” — with a message at its Herrick Chapel from Paul Corts, president emeritus of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Afterward, it recognized Erickson, along with donors and trustees.

Erickson, an ordained minister with the Baptist General Conference, drafted and designed Judson’s Biblical Studies curriculum at the school’s inception, according to the university. He remembers setting up a booth at the Kane County Fair and going door-to-door to try to recruit students to the new college 51 years ago, a time when many other colleges were closing, he said.

He’s seen second- and third-generation students and students from his own family, including his own sons-in-law and one of his grandchildren. Another grandson is set to graduate from the university this year, he said.

And he’s seen many of those students like the Elgin area and settle down here — which, he said, is “really rewarding to see.”

Erickson still teaches New Testament Greek and a senior-level course, Faith and Life Issues, in the Biblical Studies department. In fact, he never has missed a class in his entire career at Judson, attributing his “health and absent-less record” to his wife Gladys Erickson, the first school nurse at Judson.

“We’ve been through quite a few changes, but it’s a great place to invest a life,” he said.

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