A survey conducted among about 15 percent of the GSU student body showed that President Horace A. Judson and his staff lack visibility.
When the students were asked to rank Dr. Judson’s visibility on a scale from 1 to 5, (1 being the lowest), 66 percent gave him a 1 or 2. Twenty-two percent gave him a 3, and 12 percent gave him a 4 or 5.
When students were asked to match four prominent members of Judson’s current administration (Dr. Ernest Pickens, Dr. Robert M. Dixon, Wanda Ford and Shakira Hardison) with their titles, 87 percent couldn’t identify them, and 13 percent marked them correctly.
When students were asked if Dr. Judson was doing a good job of carrying out his mission, 68 percent replied no and 32 percent replied yes.
During last week’s student dialogue session in the Black & Gold Room, when Judson was asked about the importance of visibility, he replied that it was very important to him and that he had started being visible before he came to GSU.
“I came to campus to walk with students about dormitory safety and issues that they thought were important,” Dr. Judson said.
“I walk across campus quite a bit now. I try to get out at least once each day,” he said.
Baton Rouge native Brandon Harding says he “wouldn’t know who (Judson) was if he walked past the yard.”
“The only place I’ve seen him at was the parades and at the auditorium,” Harding said. “But other than that, that is the only place I’ve heard of him.”
SGA President Martin Lemelle said that when speaking of Dr. Judson’s visibility, a lot of factors come into play.
“One, you look at attendance at mandatory meetings,” Lemelle said. Two, you can look at a political figure’s presence as it relates to day-to-day operations on the campus.”
“Bottom line is the president does an adequate job of balancing the task of serving as the chief ambassador of the university while at the same time trying to create a positive image for our campus,” Lemelle said.
Ashlee Williams, president of the Student Union Board, agreed that President Judson’s task is demanding, but hopes “as his tenure moves on he will be able to be more visible to the students of Grambling.”
“I feel that he’s visible to an extent but you have to realize that the president is doing. He’s trying to bring many different aesthetically pleasing changes to the university, that he has to kind of do business right now.”
Throughout the survey, the work of Judson was the subject for many questions. Only 107 out of 400 knew his mission and many students felt out of touch with Judson.
Chicago social work major Marie Johnson said she feels everyone “should know who’s running the school.”
“He needs to be active when dealing with our activities,” Johnson said.
She believes students should be well informed of new rules at GSU, as opposed to Judson “pass the rules and we going by it.”
When Lemelle spoke on behalf of students at the president’s inauguration Saturday, he alluded to the crowd of distinguished guests that Judson “assures us that each student enrolled at GSU has a voice and that their voice is heard.”
“Judson exhibits integrity, consistency, open-mindedness, and stability,” Lemelle said. “Collectively they formulate the chemistry for the prosperity of our college.
“I want to thank him for his steadfast encouragement which he continually offers the student body and its leadership,” said Lemelle.
But GSU student Levelle Elmore said so far he really doesn’t know that much about Judson, who he feels should be “reaching out to the students.” The New York native said Judson should “be the voice of the student.”
“We mean something, too …Our words count, too,” Elmore said. “And it’s not just people on the executive boards or behind the scenes.”
Both Harding and Johnson said they saw former president Dr. Neari Warner more.
“I’ve seen her a lot, but this one, I haven’t really seen him,” said Harding.
Johnson said, “I’ve seen her on the yard, I’ve seen her everywhere … I just think he needs to be out more so the student body can know who he is.”
Dr. Helen Richards Smith, recently retired dean of the Earl Lester Cole Honors College, reflected on the days when she was a student at Grambling and Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones was president.
“Jones was very student-oriented,” said Smith.
She referred to President Jones as a good “mixer” with the students. “The student would always say ‘Hi, Prez.’ … Jones was out everywhere and he knew everything going on,” she said.
Psychology professor Dr. Lawanna Gunn-Williams said a rift between the president and the students would result in “no bond of unity.”
“There would exist no bond of allegiance, therefore leadership will be hampered by the lack of followers,” Dr. Gunn-Williams said. “Also, it’s probably a time of turmoil because the students will likely seek other means of expressing their desires and their needs, and therefore the plight of the president would have a difficult task in terms of gaining the support of the students.”
She suggests that neither students nor president should be discouraged.
“If the students and president can come to a table and sit down and sort of hash out their differences, talk about their views, and if the president lets the students know that he is with them, that he understands them, and he shows that understanding and care, then I think that he would gain the support of the student body.”