Ashland remembers Michael Hudson

Hudson took a group of students on a geology expedition in Canada for a field trip in 2011. 

Noah Cloonan

As the final buzzer sounds inside Kates Gymnasium, the basketball team looks halfway up the stands and an empty seat stands alone in the reserved seating section.

That seat belonged to Dr. Michael Hudson.

Dr. Hudson, or Doc as he was known to his students, will be watching the AU sports teams from a different seat this season.

Hudson unexpectedly passed away on Nov. 22. He was admitted to Samaritan Hospital on Nov. 18 and was being treated for atrial fibrillation, he was expected to be released on Nov. 23. Instead, he passed away suddenly the night before his release.

Doc was an associate professor in the geology department at AU since 1982, but his students say he was more than just a professor.

Doc genuinely cared about the well-being and the success of his students. Sophomore Audrey Saler said it was a norm throughout every week for students to see Doc working with his students well into the night on whatever problems they needed help with. 

“He was really good at explaining things that were confusing and he was never upset to work with students who were having trouble,” sophomore Jacob Dingus said.

Dingus recalls a time where he was late to class and Doc had the materials for his lab sitting at his seat waiting for him. He went on to say that Doc stayed with him for 30 minutes after class to ensure that he understood everything in the lab. After Dingus had finished with the lab, Doc continued to talk with him about the real world application of the lab and its extension beyond the classroom.

There are few teachers who care about their students the way in which Doc did, senior Patrice Sullivan said. 

He wanted each and every one of his students to have the best possible learning experience. Doc was a fantastic professor and his students really latched on to what he taught, but where he separated himself from other professors was with his interaction with students outside of the classroom, Saler noted.

Doc rarely missed a sporting event especially ones in which his students were competing in and he knew all of their stats. Saler said Athletes would walk into class and Doc would immediately strike up a conversation about the past weekends game or anything else regarding the team. Doc sat in the same seat for every basketball game and cheered on the athletes as if they were his own. 

It did not even have to be a NCAA sanctioned sport for Doc to come and grab a seat and watch. He frequently attended his student’s intramural games as well. 

Sophomore Tonya Beachy remembered one night this past fall at about 9 p.m., there were a couple of Geology students who had picked up a game of volleyball on the sand volleyball courts. About halfway through the game Doc rolled up to the court. He gets out of his car and dressed in a pair of shorts, a worn out t-shirt and sandals walks over to the court. 

His students immediately stopped and acknowledged the fact that he is there. Doc watched for twenty minutes while taking pictures of his students in action and encouraged his students after a good play and then went on his way as if it were just another Tuesday night.

Doc Hudson impacted his students in a way that translated from the classroom into every aspect of his student’s lives.

“He was very engaging,” Sullivan said. “You could tell that he really loved the topic that he taught and he had fun teaching it and he had fun teaching it to us and that was something that I personally, especially as an education major really valued.”

Sullivan described Doc as, witty and never missed a chance at taking a playful jab at students or making them laugh by one of his many jokes or humorous drawings.

I think one of the most memorable things about Doc is when he would give his PowerPoint presentations,” senior Shannon O’Connor said. “He would always include like funny pictures and funny pictures of himself. It showed his sense of humor and how fun of a person he really was.”

 When Sullivan and Saler recalled who Doc was as a professor they always come back to the saying, “That’s Doc.” Whether it was his quirky sayings, funny pictures in his PowerPoint’s, or random tangents that led to topics well beyond the world of science, Doc always seemed to be a step above the rest.

When students in Audrey Saler’s Geology class wanted to go on a field trip, Doc agreed to take them on one but kept it a secret until the day of. When the day came the students arrived to class and Doc told them all to follow. He led them upstairs to a room with a furnace and announced that they were going to melt rocks.

This was Doc’s idea of a field trip and Sullivan and Saler loved it and appreciated the humor of never leaving the building on the trip. Although this specific trip called for never leaving the building, over the course of his teaching, Doc took his students on many educational trips.

Many times Doc would take his students to see geological landmarks around the state and around the world. He would often recall these trips in class and would use them as examples, even showing rocks that he gathered on these trips.

 His students even traveled to him as he would invite his students over to his house on occasion to chat and talk about life.

Dr. Hudson was more than just an inspiration to his students, he was also a leader on campus and he was respected and renowned for his work in the geology department at AU.

 “Thanks to Dr. Hudson’s expertise and enthusiasm, the geology programs at AU have thrived,” Dr. Rebecca Corbin, the chair of the chemistry department said. “Research opportunities, field work, equipment, a diverse collection of minerals and maps… all the components of a quality program were cultivated under his leadership.”

Hudson touched the lives of many students and teachers inside the classroom and his impact at Ashland University will not be forgotten, Corbin said. 

“Dr. Hudson was such a presence within the sciences and throughout the campus,” Corbin said. “He worked tirelessly for what he thought was best for the students and the university. We will miss him.”