For his college. He’s the president. And he’s 66 years old.
College presidents don’t usually bike across country these days, but Judson Baptist College President Herb Anderson is an unusual man. At an age when most presidents would be settling down to retirement, Anderson, 66, biked 2,300 miles to Washington, D.C., last summer, to save his central Oregon college from financial collapse. The only Conservative Baptist liberal arts college in the country, Judson is over $1 million in debt.
Judson must show it has the means to erase much of that debt by next month to prove financial stability to a regional accreditation commission. Anderson’s bike trip, from which he hoped to raise $250,000, showed the thin thread on which the college’s future hangs.
On July 31, he and 15 Judson students left the college in The Dalles, Oregon, and arrived at the Capitol steps in Washington one month later. Trip supporters requested 1,116 Conservative Baptist churches across the country to pledge money for each mile bicyclists rode.
Anderson, an avid bicyclist who leads yearly trips up and down the West Coast with students, made the trip on a Schwinn bicycle donated by two businessmen. He visited Conservative Baptist churches along the route, got police escorts through small towns, and appeared on radio and TV talk shows. He called the trip his “last hurrah.”
“I wanted to bike across the country once in my life and here was the opportunity,” he said. “Even if we hadn’t needed the money, I would have done it, anyway. But 1982–83 is our crisis year. Either we make it or we don’t. We’re just treading water now.”
Anderson’s gamble seems to have paid off. Although the bike trip directly resulted in only $40,000 in pledges and contributions, trip publicity ...1
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