By Martha Nodar

The tradition of Oglethorpe Day brought Paul Hudson back to his alma mater to reminisce about the university, its namesake and Hudson’s own childhood in Brookhaven.

Hudson, a summa cum laude 1972 graduate of Oglethorpe who is now social sciences chairman and a history professor at Georgia Perimeter College and an adjunct faculty member at Oglethorpe, delivered the keynote address Feb. 11 at the Brookhaven university’s annual celebration of Georgia founder James Oglethorpe.

Renae Glass, a staff member in the university’s information technology department, said: “I have known Paul for a long time. He is one of the most intellectual and enthusiastic speakers I have ever heard. He cares about Oglethorpe, and it shows.”

Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall welcomed Hudson to the university in recognition of his dedication to promoting the university’s history and Oglethorpe’s life through many publications.

“Governor Oglethorpe grew up outside of London to a distinguished and wealthy family that was civically engaged,” Hudson said. “Jamie, as his friends called him, was educated at Oxford and came to be a man of action who learned early on to become interested in the people in the community. As a member of Parliament, he opposed slavery, fought for sailors’ rights and made friends with the Indians upon arriving in Georgia.”

The university’s celebration of Oglethorpe Day reaches back to a tradition that started at the University of Cambridge more than 400 years ago. The day kicks off with a few members of the varsity track team trying to race around a loop in the academic quad in less than 31 seconds to beat the chiming of the Lupton bells.

“I suppose the fellows at Cambridge simply hit on the idea,” track coach Bob Unger said.

“Covering the curves is the hardest part because one loses time turning,” said sophomore Luis Zimbron, who attempted to beat the clock this year. None of the runners succeeded.

The sound of the Lupton bells holds special memories for Hudson, who grew up in Brookhaven. “As a young boy, I could hear the bells from home,” he said. “There was never a question in my mind about attending any other school.”

Shortly after entering Oglethorpe, Hudson accidentally discovered in an underground chamber on campus a time capsule preserved in 1938 by Oglethorpe President Thornwell Jacobs. The Crypt of Civilization has gained a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the first successful attempt to bury a time capsule, and Hudson went on to co-found the International Time Capsule Society.

He also was the force behind Oglethorpe University’s gaining a place in the National Register of Historic Places.

“I wanted Oglethorpe to be recognized,” he said.

Directing his speech toward a group of prospective students sharing the Oglethorpe Day festivities, Hudson said: “This is a wonderful place where you make friends for life.”

Leonor Soriano, a 1997 Oglethorpe graduate, said: “Dr. Hudson makes his history classes as interesting as his speeches, mixing in the material with his own experiences from his trips to Oxford — the university in England from which Oglethorpe is patterned after.”

Schall said thousands of high school students a year apply for admission because of Oglethorpe’s rich history and reputation for academic inquiry.

“James Edward Oglethorpe was not much older than a college student when circumstances called upon him to show strength in character,” Schall said. “He was an inspiration to Hudson during his formative years, and he remains a wonderful role model for our students today.”