6/27/2011 - Former Gov. Brewer Charges Judson College Graduates to Serve the Disadvantaged
Former Gov. Brewer Charges Judson College Graduates to Serve the Disadvantaged
By Michael J. Brooks
Family, students and friends jammed Alumnae Auditorium on the campus of Judson College in Marion on Saturday for the college's 173rd annual commencement.
College president Dr. David Potts presided and awarded diplomas to the graduating seniors.
Potts noted that the class of 2011 had distinguished themselves in and out of the classroom.
"This is a small class in comparison to others we've had, but a great class," Potts said.
"We applaud the application and stewardship of their minds. They did well academically, but they were also active in serving others. More than 85 percent of them participated in faith-based service and learning in this community and in the world."
Former Alabama governor Albert P. Brewer was commencement speaker.
Following his service to Morgan County in the Alabama House of Representatives and as Speaker of the House, Brewer was elected Alabama's 21st lieutenant governor in 1966 and became governor in 1968 following the death of Gov. Lurleen Wallace. He is now emeritus professor of law at the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University.
Before his address, Potts bestowed an honorary doctorate on Brewer, noting that he "demonstrated throughout his life an exemplary commitment both to his Christian faith and to public service."
Brewer brought laughter to the crowd when he described the commencement address as the "ultimate and final ordeal" inflicted by "sadistic" academic institutions on their graduates.
"I promise to be painless and brief," he said.
"I've always had respect and admiration for Judson College," Brewer said, noting that he'd served on the college's Board of Advisors a number of years ago. "Graduates have distinguished themselves in many ways and in many places.
"Judson is among the 200 oldest colleges in America," he said. "It's true that most of the colleges in our nation founded as Christian institutions have deviated from their roots, but Judson has remained true to her Christian mission."
Brewer said that he first learned of Judson as a boy of 8 or 9 in the First Baptist Church of Decatur.
"The late Emmie Frances Wolfer was in our church," he said. "She was alum and a big supporter of Judson. Her generosity made it possible for scores of young women to attend Judson."
Brewer told the graduates that their degree certified them as "efficient in a discipline, that you can recognize and solve problems, that you have leadership skills and that you have proper emphasis on your spiritual life."
Brewer said that the graduates would leave something of themselves at the college.
"You have added another layer to the rich culture of Judson, but what of the future?" he asked.
Brewer suggested that the service-learning graduates had rendered while in college was a good foundation for life and actually a "saving account" that they could draw on by continuing to help others in the name of Christ, especially the most disadvantaged.
"You judge the character of people by how they treat others whom they think can do nothing for them in return," he said.
After conferring degrees, Potts presented the national Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award to alumna Eugenia Anderson of Birmingham, and the student award to Ashley Wigley Smith of Hattiesburg, Miss.
Melia Ann Graff of Panama City, Fla. received the J.C. Faulkner Award and both Jodie Breedlove of Robertsdale and Laura Hyer of Marion Junction received the Bible Award for outstanding Christian service.
Laura Ruth Noble of Huntsville won the Scholarship Award for having the highest academic average in her class-3.9 of 4.0.
English professor Stacey Parham was awarded the Lula and Alton Holley Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching.
Founded in 1838, Judson College is the nation's premier Christian college for women. Located in Marion, Ala., Judson has been recognized by "U.S. News & World Report" as among the top 20 best national liberal arts colleges by guidance counselors in the "Best High Schools" category.
Photo cutline: The graduation platform party included (seated from left) trustee chair Dr. Robin T. Hall of Cullman and academic dean Dr. Sara Kiser, and (standing) the Rev. Neil Wigley of Camden, Ark., father of graduate Ashley Wigley Smith; Dr. Roger Willmore of Birmingham, member of the Judson Board of Governors and pastor of graduates Elizabeth and Hannah Tucker; former governor Albert Brewer and Judson president Dr. David Potts. Photo by Bill Mathews.