A farewell to the Brouders
Events during the month of July celebrated Dr. Brouder's 18 years at Columbia College. Faculty, staff and students gathered to say goodbye to the 16th president.
July was an eventful yet bittersweet month that was dedicated to saying farewell to Dr. Gerald Brouder and Mrs. Brouder. During two special moments, faculty, staff and students had the opportunity to honor Columbia College’s 16th president as he prepares to retire after 18 years at the college.
On July 17, more than 300 faculty, staff and students filled the floor and lined the track of Dorsey Gym to recognize Brouder. Dr. Terry Smith, the new interim president and previous vice president and dean for Academic Affairs, said the president exemplifies the true definition of a leader.
Quoting a definition from Wikipedia, “the final authority on all things,” Smith spoke of how Brouder worked to establish a campus of integrity, civility and respect and infused administration with a moral sensibility.
Smith listed Brouder’s accomplishments from when he started in 1995 until today. Some of those included:
1995 to today
• 46 full-time faculty members to 71
• $2 million endowment to $108
• 19 Nationwide Campuses to 35
• 10 Nationwide Campuses on military bases to 18
• 2 international partnerships to 5
• 5 varsity athletics teams to 10
• No Online Campus to an Online Campus that serves some 24,000 students each year
At the celebration, portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Brouder were unveiled. The first lady wears black with pearl accessories in front of a blue curtain background, while the soon-to-be president emeritus wears a dark suit with a blue and white tie in front of a bookshelf background. The painted books included “Pathophysiology,” “Petticoat Pioneer,” “Bacteriology and Immunology” and “William Shakespeare."
After the unveiling, Nollie Moore, music instructor and director of the Jane Froman Singers, led a band of four and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Brouder made a short speech thanking everyone including attendees, his predecessors and Sidney Larson, who painted the portraits before he passed away in 2009.
“The portraits will hang in St. Clair Hall to give Bonnie and I a unique perspective to look over this institution we love so much,” Brouder said.
After his speech, a receiving line formed and curved around the gym for attendees to shake Brouder’s hand. They were there to tell him what Smith so eloquently summed up: we tried to follow his lead, we hope we met his expectations, and ultimately, Brouder kept us “motivated, upright and courageous,” and the college’s vision of being a model institution was realized because of the president and first lady.
“Your leadership served as an inspiration to all of us,” Smith said. “We wish you both all the best. Congratulations, Dr. Brouder.”
On July 30, faculty, staff and students — many dressed in college blue — waited along the sidewalk of Bass Commons. Dr. and Mrs. Brouder walked down the path, eyes welling with tears as the college community clapped and bid the duo a final farewell.
At Roger’s Gate, they stopped. Mrs. Brouder was given pink roses, and Dr. Brouder was presented with a folded flag encased in a frame. The plaque reads, "This flag was flown over Columbia College in honor and recognition of the exceptional leadership and unwavering support provided to the students, faculty, staff and alumni during his tenure as 16th president Dr. Gerald T. Brouder May 15, 1995 — July 31, 2013."
“Thank you for giving us motivation, values and courage,” said Dr. Smith.
As the Brouders walked away, a chant began and continued as the family crossed Rogers Street, entered their car and drove away.
“We are … CC!”