The popularity of the celebration waned in the early 1980s and the tradition ended in 1986, giving way to another popular event, Hot Dog Day. While the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day festival in Alfred ended 35 years ago, the spirit of the event was kept alive for many years by Alfred University alumna Elizabeth Robinson Judson ‘82.
Beth Judson earned bachelor’s degrees in ceramic science and mathematics from our University. She was active in the Alpha Kappa Omicron (AKO) sorority and was selected the Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior of her class. She later earned master’s and doctoral degrees in ceramic engineering from Georgia Tech.
Beth was a consultant to the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership of the National Academies, had been general manager of a ceramic armor start-up company associated with Georgia Tech, and had 10 years’ industrial experience with Alcoa and several small ceramic businesses in the Atlanta area.
Tragically, Beth and her husband, Jim Judson, died in an airplane accident in October of 2010. At the time of her death, Beth—who was active in the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) and served as the ACerS representative to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)—had been a member of the Alfred University Board of Trustees since 2001 and was destined to be the first female chair of our Board.
From 2003-10, Beth and Jim hosted Alfred University alumni and friends in their Atlanta home for an annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering. Beth’s family continues to honor Jim and Beth with an annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Buffalo area.
At the same time that we mark Beth’s contribution to St. Patrick’s Day, Beth’s impact also highlights this month’s other celebration: Women’s History Month. In 2006, Beth helped found our University’s Women’s Leadership Center and provided valuable philanthropic support and guidance—the latter by serving on the Center’s Advisory Board.
Today, our Elizabeth Robinson Judson Leadership Center (JLC), named in Beth’s honor, encompasses the Women’s Leadership Center, which provides leadership education and skills development for women, and the Women’s Leadership Academy, a credit-bearing leadership development experience which is one of the oldest women’s leadership academies in the country. The JLC has been integral to the recent launch of a leadership minor available to all Alfred University undergraduate students, regardless of their academic major. The JLC also sponsors Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), Alfred University’s chapter of the national leadership honor society, and the annual AKO Leadership Awards—the latter generously supported by the philanthropy of our AKO alumnae.
On March 17 and throughout this Women’s History Month of March, please join me in remembering Beth Judson for her inspiring efforts to manifest and foster women’s leadership through a life well lived and impactful contributions to her family, profession, community, and alma mater.