After 19 years as president of Gordon College, Judson Carlberg still has one thing in mind - the student learning experience.
Like most college presidents, Carlberg's job entails spending much of his time in meetings, fundraising and conducting the business of running a small liberal arts college. But for Carlberg, who first came to Gordon in 1976 and served as the dean of faculty, improving the student learning experience has remained close to his heart.
Carlberg, who recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2011, has served at Gordon a total of 34 years, and was named the college's seventh president in 1992.
During joining the college, he has seen Gordon grow, not only in size, but in opportunities for students, pointing to a Latin American tour he took with other college administrators in the 1980s as an eye opening experience. As Carlberg concludes, any solid liberal arts education "includes an emphasis on global experiences."
The college now has more than 20 off-campus educational programs, a concept Carlberg saw in the 1980s as "tied to the future of student experiences."
In addition to Gordon's increased emphasis on global education, Carlberg pushed the school to become engaged with the local community as well. Carlberg insisted that Gordon encourages its students to "be good citizens in relation to local communities."
For example, Carlberg has always counted the lack of a church on Gordon's campus as a point of pride because the absence of a church on campus "encourages students to explore different settings of their own choice," becoming "active participants in community life."
Gordon's community service program in Lynn, which was spearheaded in the early-2000s, has also helped create an atmosphere of local involvement and community service. Carlberg noted that Gordon's residence hall in Lynn served as a sign of Gordon's desire to remain involved in the Lynn community. But the school may not be able to afford the building much longer, he said.
Carlberg painted a rosy picture when asked to comment on Gordon's relationship with the town of Wenham. He sees the college as "more than cordial" with the town, with Gordon presenting more of a benefit to the local community than a burden.
"We pay our own way," Carlberg said. "We do not rely on the town of Wenham for services funded by taxpayers."
While retaining its financial independence, the college also offers the use of its facilities for community events, such as Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School's graduation ceremonies.
Carlberg, a Massachusetts native, plans to continue to call Essex County home after retirement, when he and his wife Jan plan to move to Gloucester.