For more than 30 years, Dr. Robert Judd was a fixture in Southern
Nazarene University’s Biology Department. Not only did Dr. Judd help
shape the minds of hundreds of young medical and scientific minds, he
is often referred to as a favorite professor among his previous students
for his care and compassion toward them.
Dr. Judd came to SNU at a very special time in the history of the
university’s science department. In addition to the W. Don Beaver
science building being brand new when Dr. Judd first arrived on
campus to teach biology in 1968, he shared his first-year teaching
duties with two other new professors who have also become student
favorites over the years: Dr. Sharon Young and Dr. Leo Finkenbinder.
“We had a great staff in that building,” he said. “It was a
wonderful relationship. To this day I cannot recall ever having a
squabble in our department.”
As he reflected back on the unique bond he had with Dr. Young
and Dr. Finkenbinder, Dr. Judd said that Dr. Young was one of the most
unique people he ever met and praised for being an excellent,
“She loved these kids and she was a great role model for our
female students,” added Dr. Judd.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Judd spent a portion of his youth
living on farms. He described his father as having a fantastic mind and
always stressed the importance of an education to Dr. Judd. When his
father came to know Christ, Dr. Judd said that his father’s life was
radically changed, which had a profound effect on his life and his
It was meeting his future wife that led Dr. Judd to the Church of
the Nazarene. After they were married, they bought a small trailer and
attended Olivet Nazarene University together while living out of the
trailer. His days at Olivet were not easy, as Dr. Judd recalled how
managing a job, a full course load, and marriage were taxing.
“I worked all night and took 22 hours one semester. I don’t
recommend it,” he laughed. “I regretted it because I had two courses I
didn’t do well in.”
During the time of Sputnik that helped to launch the space race,
Dr. Judd said the government was actively handing out money for
those who wanted to study science. He went back to school to pursue
a Master’s Degree, which ultimately led him to teach at Huntington
University in Indiana. It was a visit by Dr. Willis Snowbarger, who was a
representative for higher education in the Church of the Nazarene,
which ultimately led Dr. Judd to Bethany, Oklahoma.
Dr. Judd never looked back and began his teaching career at SNU
shortly thereafter where he taught for 30 years. It was in 1998 that Dr. Judd decided the time had come to step down and retire, but his love
of SNU and Oklahoma have not diminished as he lives in the same
house he and his wife bought when the first arrived in 1968.
“I had the best job anybody ever had,” said Dr. Judd. “I really
didn’t want it to end, but at the same time I also felt it was time.”
He explained the integration of computer technology into the
classroom coupled with the changing nature of his field prompted Dr.
Judd toward retirement. He felt it was time for someone younger to
take over his role in the Biology Department in the dawn of this new
information age. Even though he knew it was the right decision, he still
misses his interactions with students, which was his favorite aspect of
teaching at SNU.
“I loved when students would come into my office and flop down
in the chair next to me and tell me they were not sure what to do
next,” recalled Dr. Judd. “They would talk about their personal
problems, if they should get married or not, and their course work.
There was nothing better than that.”
Dr. Judd said he still keeps in contact with some of his former
students. In fact, two of them are his physicians. He also bragged
about his biology students saying they were full of integrity, which was
not the case at other universities.
“I always considered myself fortunate to be here,” he said.
“Being able to work in a place like that for so long was a blessing.”
Even as Dr. Judd reflects on his past at SNU, he is even more
excited about what is currently taking pace with the Campaign For The
Sciences, which will help propel SNU’s Science Department into the
future with new facilities and equipment. During the recent
groundbreaking of the 26,000-square-foot structure that will house
classrooms, laboratories, and gathering spaces for science students,
Dr. Judd said he moved at the fact that this project was finally
becoming a reality.
“It was really happening. I almost wanted to cry,” said Dr. Judd.
While Dr. Judd is excited at the advancements the department
has made in acquiring new equipment in recent years, he believes the
Campaign will prove essential in educating future generations of
“I think the new labs are just essential if we are going to move
forward in science,” he explained. “You have to furnish kids with
As the Campaign For The Sciences prepares to move SNU’s
Science Department forward, Dr. Judd said he is enjoying his retirement
with his family and good health. He is also thankful God has allowed
him to watch his grandchildren grow into adults, which he said is all
anyone can ask for out of life.