Known for his guiding mantra, “Reclaiming Our Legacy, Claiming Our Place,” But what exactly does this mean? According to Dr. Horace A. Judson, the University’s seventh permanent president, reclaiming our legacy is about re-embracing those Grambling values that are eternal: pride, respect, dedication, hard work, responsibility, courage and integrity, the basic core values of Grambling State University.Since taking office in 2004, Judson has embarked upon a mission to give Grambling State University the same opportunities as other institutions. He began an extensive journey in Tiger Land and instantly made it known that he is here for the students.
Under Judson’s new administration, the student housing is constantly being upgraded, the university bookstore and cafeteria were redesigned, a food court and new programs have been added, the admission requirements have been raised, and the amount of funds for fundraising increased.
“My top priority now is to get a new library and science and math building (Carver Hall) for the students. A new laboratory school is also in the plans,” said Judson.
Currently in his fifth year of presidency at GSU after a 9 and a half year presidency at Plattsburgh State University in New York, Judson has established his vision for GSU and knows the best way to carry out his goals.
“We are definitely on the right track and have made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We are aiming to achieve our full potential: we try not to allow any circumstances limit us.”
Prior to being interviewed and chosen as president, Judson had never visited the campus of GSU.
However, he was knowledgeable about the university and had met legendary football coach Eddie G. Robinson.
Nonetheless, was Grambling what Judson expected it to be?
“I knew about a few challenges with Grambling from the 1990s and was not surprised when I came here,” he said. “I knew exactly what I was confronting, yet I underestimated some of the issues, especially student housing.”
With such a busy schedule to carry out, Judson knows the importance of having someone around that always supports his efforts and endeavors.
“Mrs. Judson supports me all around,” said Judson who considers his wife to be much more than a traditional first lady.
He mentioned that his wife sometimes arranges his travel and is a full-time volunteer for GSU, playing a key role in the area of Institutional Development and Advancement.
“I surround myself with highly qualified people,” said Judson, who explained this is a primary reason his leadership style works.
In addition, patience, persistence, experience, and dedication are a few of the qualities he feels have contributed to his success as a university president.
“You have to be capable of handling set backs and starting again, never losing focus of the primary goal. It has to be more than a job,” said Judson.
A significant part of his vision is to create a “walking campus” within the next five years. This effort is also outlined in his University Master Development Plan.
For that reason, campus beautification and a high quality learning environment are all vital entities.
Considering the stress that this job produces, Judson makes time for relaxation.
“I walk and play golf,” said Judson, who has been a member of Squire Creek Country Club for three years.
Not only does walking and golfing relax him, he is also a fan of calming waves near the ocean with sand under his feet.
This explains in part why the family home is still located in Destin, Fla. As often as their schedules permit, he and his wife go there for plenty of rest and relaxation.
Unfortunately, Judson only gets to visit with his grown children three or four times a year.
“We see each other on holidays and family reunions; but I have new grandchildren and wish I could see them more often,” he added.
If all goes as planned, Judson will soon look towards retirement and spending more time with his family. Even though the small town of Grambling was a complete change for him, he admitted Louisiana has grown on him.
“My wife and I are small town people; so Louisiana is comfortable,” said Judson.
Despite his comfort, he still considers his home back in Florida as a possible place for settlement.
“Running from hurricanes can be rather annoying too,” he said.
Judson did not say when he expected to retire, but one can only speculate that it will not be before his vision for GSU is fully realized.
At the end of the interview, he did, however, leave the following thoughts for students to ponder:
“The students of Grambling State University should desire to become more involved with every aspect of the campus. Grow to become more involved with out-of-classroom experiences, leadership opportunities, and serving on more committees. Remember to reach for new experiences, and know that a very important part of growing is to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone.