He has given his heart and soul to Newberry College and once again Dr. John Hudgens is leaving the institution to start a new chapter in life.
Hudgens began his Newberry College journey as a student and football player after following in his dad’s steps as a student.
While a student he met is wife but over the years has returned to the college to be president three times.
The latest was this year with the resignation of president Scott Koerwer.
When Hudgens took over as interim president this time, a lot had been promised but Hudgens knew the college did not have the resources to take on all the promises for Main Street.
Instead the plan scaled back to the renovation of Speers Street School into a masters degree teaching site for the college, said Hudgens, who once served as school superintendent.
Hudgens says the facility is paid for thanks to generous donations and that the master degree program is in the works and the school should be up and running in a few years.
He adds that the college is also in better shape than when he took over.
The tuition driven school has been able to make its budget and should have the needed number of students for the year.
This year the school is looking at 1,050 full-time students but hopes to grow to 1,500 or 1,600 in the future.
“We are pleased with our relationship with the city and community,” he adds.
He adds things like new streetscaping on College Street and new tennis facilities will help both the college and community and that the Oakland Mill has been a great addition.
“It is full of students and as fine of a dorm as any in the state,” said Hudgens.
A big hurdle was getting the accreditation from the Southern Association but the school feels good about it and just have one more visit from them in the spring.
While it has been a while since new president Dr. Maurice William Scherrens was announced as president in May, Hudgens says Scherrens has been working behind the scenes.
The work should pay off with the college announcing a new chief financial officer soon.
Also a consultant has been chosen to work with the student enrollment office for five months and search for a replacement for the job.
A committee has been formed to search for a new athletic director, but Hudgens adds with little advertising some 90 people have already applied for the position.
On Tuesday, Hudgens and Scherrens met to discuss items going on at the college but by the end of the day, Hudgens returned to his home in Columbia.
At the same time, Scherrens was settling into Newberry.
Hudgens says his next chapter will be to continue to work with Midlands Middle College, to travel and go to the beach.
He will also be spending time with his five grandboys.
But one can place a bet that come Sept. 1, Hudgens will be back at Newberry College to sit in the stands and cheer on the Wolves.
He adds that at the age of 74 he is not looking to return for a fourth time as the college head and feels that Scherrens will be here for a number of years.
But he adds he has failed at retirement seven times before coming out of retirement to serve three times as a superintendent, at Midlands Tech and three times at Newberry.
“But there is nothing I would not do for Newberry College. They have not let me down and I will not let them down,” said Hudgens. “This has been a labor of love.”