$500,000 Gift Establishes Endowed Professorship of Education


Close-up shot of the right pillar on the South Entrance to campus. The shot is mainly focused on a plaque with the words
By Office of Marketing & Public Relations
On February 8, 2022

Blackburn College has received a $500,000 gift to create the Sonja Faust Hudren Endowed Professorship in Education. Hudren’s brother, Blackburn Trustee Jim Faust, his wife Helen, and their children Kristen, Erika, and Stephen established the Professorship to honor her incredible passion for teaching and to preserve her legacy at Blackburn. 

Originally from Chicago, both siblings attended and graduated from Blackburn – Faust in 1964 and Hudren in 1966. “I wanted to go away for college and discovered in a brochure that you could get to Blackburn by train,” Faust said. “The College was a very friendly place and, when my sister came down to visit me, she enjoyed the campus as much as I did.” 

After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Hudren spent nearly 25 years in the classroom for the Dundee Community School District where she was well-liked by students and widely respected by her colleagues. Hudren cared deeply about the children she taught and took great joy in watching them grow throughout their adolescence. Her time in the classroom was cut short and she succumbed to cancer in 1995.

Endowed professorships not only recognize exceptional achievement, but also provide permanent financial support for the research, special equipment and resources, and innovative endeavors of distinguished faculty members. Hudren was an outspoken advocate for education and known for getting things done while others were busy talking. It was her action-oriented nature and the critically important work of Blackburn’s Education department addressing the teacher shortage throughout the state that made this an incredible opportunity for Faust to honor his sister’s legacy.

“What’s beautiful about Blackburn is their ability to prepare highly-qualified teachers who want to make a difference in rural settings,” he stated. “I’m a huge believer in the importance of elementary education and Blackburn’s department is incredibly strong.” 

Jim Faust, Blackburn Trustee and brother of Sonja

Dr. Cindy Rice, Professor of Education at Blackburn, was honored to receive this gift. She elaborated, “We, in teacher education, are extremely grateful for the generosity shown to our students by Mr. Faust and his family. The Sonja Faust Hudren Endowed Professorship in Education will provide an opportunity for the faculty of our department to pursue continued excellence and growth as mentors of teachers for many years to come. We thank Mr. Faust and his family for their commitment to teaching and Blackburn College.”

Dr. George Malo ‘66, a Blackburn Trustee and classmate of Hudren, shared, “I was pleased to hear that Jim Faust has endowed a professorship in the Department of Education in memory of his sister. She was a classmate and also an assistant when I was Dining Hall Head. Her proficiency was shown in her becoming Dining Hall Head and later, after graduation, as a lead elementary teacher in a Chicago area school district known for its competent teachers. Thus, with Blackburn’s continuing, academically strong Department of Education, it is very fitting to name an endowed professorship after one of its successful graduates, Sonja Faust Hudren.”

“We are so thankful for the generous gift from Mr. Faust and his family that allows us to establish the Sonja Faust Hudren Endowed Professorship in Education,” Blackburn President Mark Biermann said. “An endowed professorship is timeless and such a gift ensures that Blackburn College will always be able to provide outstanding teaching and learning opportunities in education. A gift such as this honors Sonja and benefits our faculty and students in perpetuity. We are so grateful for the foresight and commitment to Blackburn College that is displayed through this gift.”