Saturday, August 29, 2009

A tribute to former CNU president, Dr. John E. Anderson Jr.

This past Wednesday, Christopher Newport University lost its 3rd president, Dr. John E. Anderson Jr. (shown here), who died at the age of 77 due to complications stemming from a long illness. Anderson served as CNU's president from 1980 to 1986, and then remained at the university as a faculty member and department chair until his retirement in 2003. An Ohio native, Anderson earned his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Akron and a PhD in psychology from The Ohio State University. He taught at several colleges and served as interim president of Georgia's Columbus State University before joining CNU in 1980. He was married to Joyce Querry Anderson for 53 years and had three children as well as multiple grandchildren.

Dr. Anderson led CNU (then CNC - Christopher Newport College) during a challenging time in its history. It was still growing into its identity as an independent public college after seperating from the College of William and Mary in the mid-1970s. An economic recession at the time also froze state appropriations and severely limited CNC's abilities to expand academic and building infrastructure. However, Dr. Anderson ably led the institution through these turbulent times and did achieve key goals in spite of funding limitations, including constrution of the Science Building and a reorganization of the college's academic organizational structure.

As a CNU faculty member, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Anderson over the last couple years of his life, while he graciously assisted me in the development of my book Christopher Newport University (2009, Arcadia Publishing). Dr. Anderson was a true "character" - one of the funniest people I have ever met! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of his amusing stories (he was a master story-teller), and he never failed to reduce me to side-splitting laughter! He was also always blunt and to the point - calling things the way he saw them. I am honored to have had the opportunity to get to know him before his passing. While CNU is soaring under the presidency of Paul S. Trible Jr., the foundation for that growth was laid in part by those who came before him, including Dr. Anderson. Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for your service to CNU and American higher education - rest in peace.

- Sean M. Heuvel

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