Hudson is adjusting to challenges as interim president of Marylhurst

In his long career as a history professor and university executive,by: REVIEW PHOTO: CLIFF NEWELL - Being interim president of Marylhurst University is unlike any job Jerry Hudson has had before. But he is enjoying the challenges he is facing at the school near Lake Oswego. Jerry Hudson has never experienced what he is now as interim president of Marylhurst University.

“Marylhurst is a different kind of institution,” Hudson said. “It’s an interesting place. The average age of the students is 38 years old. That’s a lot different than dealing with 18- to 21-year-olds.”

One of Hudson’s biggest surprises came when a female student called him and introduced herself as a student leader at Marylhurst. She said she “just loved Marylhurst University.” That was nice, Hudson thought. Then he found that the woman was calling from Ohio and had never set foot on the Marylhurst campus. She was an online student, one of many in Marylhurst’s intensive online education curriculum, and had somehow become intensely involved with what was happening at the school.

While Marylhurst is different from Hudson’s previous posts as a college president, including 17 years at Willamette University, he said it has the same challenges as any school.

“We need to raise more money,” he said, “Most of our students don’t have any help from parents or anybody else. If we can’t help them financially, they simply can’t go to school here. There is so much competition with other colleges today in attracting students.”

The fundraising quest leaves Hudson with much less time for interacting with students. Still, he is glad he accepted the Marylhurst position.

“My wife and I had been retired for seven years, and we were used to doing anything we wanted,” Hudson said. “But when I got the call here I wanted to accept it, and I have enjoyed it. Someone has to keep the house in order.”

In any case, Hudson is used to unusual challenges in the academic realm. From 1968 to 1972 he had the “perfect job” as provost at Pepperdine University. That was because the school had no faculty or students because it was building its magnificent campus in Malibu. Hudson spent all of his time there overseeing construction and wearing a hard hat.

“You don’t get many chances to start from scratch,” he said.

When he accepted the interim president position last August at Marylhurst, Hudson said he would stay a year or until the school had hired a new full-time president. Until then he will play a vital role at Marylhurst University.

“I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished here,” Hudson said.

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