Lavoyed Hudgins: Safety and Service
A graduate of Liberty University and the FBI National Academy, Hudgins came to Berea in 2010 after a distinguished career in law enforcement. In 1978, after his father was murdered in a robbery, Hudgins joined the Montgomery, Ala., police force. From there, he went on to serve as chief of police in the towns of Moody and Enterprise, Ala., and Clarksville, Tenn. Before coming to Berea, Hudgins served as deputy commissioner of Public Protection and assistant to the governor of Kentucky, a position appointed by then-Governor Ernie Fletcher. Though he had more lucrative opportunities than Berea College, the mission of the school inspired him to finish his career here.
How has a career in law enforcement and public safety impacted you as a person?
I can’t begin to describe what I’ve seen in my career. I used to think the horrors I witnessed didn’t bother me, but I was wrong. As I age, I feel the impact of that bad stuff on my health and my thinking. But it also helped me realize the amazing amount of good just one person can accomplish. I’ve seen a single person with a passion for a cause impact many people, and I don’t think it gets much better than that. I’m drawn to the writing of Emerson: What is success? ….to know that just one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That is to have succeeded!
What led you to Berea?
I was looking for work after a politically-appointed position ended. When I received the call from Berea that I had an interview, I had an offer pending in Lexington. I live in Lexington, so that would have been much more convenient and, frankly, more money, too. But when I spent the day here at my interview, I called my wife as I drove away and told her, “I think this is it.” She asked me about pay, and when I told her how much, she asked, “Are you crazy?” While there has never been definitive proof that I’m not actually crazy, it couldn’t have been more obvious that Berea was the right choice. The sense of service one gets from working here can’t be matched anywhere.
Why is Berea an important institution?
I like to think it is THE most important institution because of those we serve. It’s also important because we are sending our graduates into the world equipped with Berea values and ideals. The Great Commitments all mean something special to me. I believe they are important because of the effort the College puts forth to make them an integral part of all it does. That makes it easy for me argue it is THE most important college in the country.
Why do you enjoy working at Berea?
We are here for the students and to serve them, to help them assimilate into a world in which there is no easy assimilation. The students make it worthwhile—always have and always will. I’ve been blessed to have been able to help so many students navigate rough spots. I get to see people learn and grow as adults and as members of society. How many jobs afford that opportunity?
Have you learned any important lessons while at Berea?
I’ve learned that virtually everyone has value and needs a chance. As a society, we tend to marginalize entire classes of people. Berea is a great melting pot of cultures and backgrounds, proving everyone has potential.
How does it feel to be an honorary alumnus?
My first thought was that everyone else they asked must have said, “No!” Seriously, it’s amazing, and I am humbled and grateful.