1980-1997: Jerry E. Hudson

Jerry E. Hudson

Dr. Jerry Hudson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1938. He earned a BA in history from Lipscomb University in Nashville and an MA and PhD in American history from Tulane University in New Orleans. He served on the faculty of Pepperdine University and as President of Hamline University before coming to Willamette University in 1980. Adjectives often associated with Hudson include visionary, leader, mentor, and consensus-builder. Hudson is credited with bringing Willamette’s vision back into focus by recognizing the importance of the university’s past while simultaneously moving the institution forward in a positive manner. He proved adept at combining development with a sense of preservation as illustrated by his efforts to protect and relocate one of the last surviving homes from Willamette’s earlier era (University House) when it was necessary to make way for the construction of Olin Science Center, for which he secured the long-awaited funding. During his presidency, the Mark O. Hatfield Library was built and the Mill Race was redesigned to include “Hudson’s Bay,” which continues to be a source of pleasure for the entire campus. Before leaving campus Hudson ensured all was in place for the construction of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center which includes “Hudson Hall.” It seems fitting that Willamette’s sesquicentennial was celebrated under the tenure of a president with an appreciation of its history. After 17 years as president of Willamette, Hudson retired on July 31, 1997. He has since served on several boards and was executive vice president of the Collins Foundation for 11 years. He is currently serving as board president of the Oregon Historical Society for the 2010-2012 biennium.