11/23/2009 - JC license plates bring scholarship money and 'prison time' for VP
By Michael J. Brooks
It's a bit more distinct than a bumper sticker, but the effect is the same with another significant benefit.
Since 1997, scores of Judson College alumnae and friends in Alabama have purchased a Judson car tag to promote the college. Not only do their automobiles give the college good advertisement, but more than $88,000 has been provided for scholarships since the program began.
The state of Alabama authorized colleges to submit designs for car tags in 1988 through the Martin-Estes-Campbell Act which was the brainchild of Dr. James Martin, then president of Auburn University. Martin saw how the plan worked in Georgia and lobbied for its adoption in Alabama.
The law allows Alabama's four-year colleges and universities to offer the automobile tags and mandates that the proceeds after production costs are to be used for student scholarships. Later the bill was amended to offer the plates to a broad range of non-educational organizations.
Current Judson Director of Development Judy Martin worked as Judson's Vice President for Institutional Advancement in the late 90s. She and Judson president Dr. David Potts discussed the idea with the president's cabinet.
Martin, who interestingly is the sister-in-law of Auburn's former president, James Martin, said, "We were in the midst of doing some design changes for our logo and promotional materials, so it was a good time to work on this new idea."
Martin's work on the tag necessitated an afternoon in state prison.
"We got a prototype from Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery," she said, "but the color wasn't right. Judson uses red, and the prototype looked too orange. So, I drove to the prison and spent an afternoon in the lab. It was a bit unnerving to part with my possessions and go through all the locked gates, but we worked on the color until we got it right."
Martin then placed an initial order with the state for 500 tags and made an educated guess on the number of tags that should be available in each county.
Since those early days the Judson logo car tag has met with success. Now automobile owners can choose the basic Judson logo tag when they renew their tags, or they may choose the so called "vanity" tag with customized numbers or letters for a slightly higher cost.
Every purchase brings $48.75 to the college for scholarship support.
Doris Wilson, Judson's Director of Financial Aid, reports that the college receives about $8400 each year for scholarships through tag sales.
"It's a great way for all Judson supporters to help promote the college and to provide financial aid for the young women of Judson," Martin said.
*Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.