Here at Belmont, we all have heard the name Bob Fisher. We’ve seen him at freshman orientation, at graduation and at every new building built in between.
But what about the other Fisher – the president’s wife, Judy Fisher? Who is she and what does she do around campus?
For more than 40 years, Judy Fisher has been supporting Bob Fisher behind the scenes both as a mother to their three children and as an academic enthusiast, even proofreading and typing papers for him while they were both going through college.
“I had a parttime job, so did he. I would type up papers as he spoke them out loud to me,” said Fisher.
The two met while attending university in Arkansas where they are both from. Fisher was studying to become a science teacher something which catered to her love of nature.
They dated for five years before getting married. However, this time in life did bring with it difficult lessons.
“My dad died when I was going through college. It was tough, but it also taught me how to get myself through. I worked while I was in college, bought a car. It wasn’t much of a car,” Fisher said. “But, it worked.”
She admires students who work hard during college students who don’t have everything handed to them. She feels a special kinship with them.
“Life will get difficult. You will have pain and you will carry it with you. It will make you who you are. But, it’s also how you respond to life’s difficult times. That’s what makes you strong.”
Fisher is heavily involved in interviewing prospective students to be recipients of the Ingram Diversity Leadership Scholarship.
Dr. Susan West, vice president of presidential affairs, serves on the Ingram Diversity Leadership Scholarship committee with Fisher.
￼“That’s where her heart is and where her passion is,” said West.
Each year, Belmont interviews between 10 and 12 prospective students for the Ingram Scholarship. So, as West puts it, “it’s a long process.”
“Well, these are prospective students, first of all. So, by her volunteering her time to interview prospective students to come to the institution, I think, basically, you can fill in the blanks as to what type of person she is,” said West. “She’s conscientious. She’s a hard worker. She wants what’s best for Belmont. She’s willing to invest the time, energy and effort to do that.”
This tenacity West spoke of can also be seen each time Belmont begins construction on a new building. Fisher gets involved, particularly with the interior aesthetics and exterior landscaping of the buildings.
In Fisher’s words, ”I do the job when there’s no one else to do it.”
Fisher has worked with Janet Wennerlund, senior interior designer for Earl Swensson Associates, the interior design company contracted by Belmont, for the past 15 years.
“For finishes and furniture, she has a great eye for detail and what she has envisioned,” Wennerlund said. “I would present all the finishes, the locations, the details for those finishes, and if there was something that she felt was not appropriate or what she had not envisioned, she would let me know.”
Most designers covet this type of feedback. It helps the design team better cater to the needs of the client, Wennerlund said.
Specifically, the chapel in the Wedgewood Academic Center stuck out in Wennerlund’s mind. The vision Wennerlund and Fisher had beforehand came alive in that space, Wennerlund said.
However, the longevity and complicated nature of new construction projects does frustrate Fisher. The amount of time it takes to get a simple picture framed and put onto a wall can be astounding, Fisher said.
Yes, she is the president’s wife. But, Belmont human resources said she has no official title which means she has no tangible executive authority.
“I have to wait, just like everyone else,” said Fisher.
She also isn’t paid by the university, nor does she have an office.
“This is my office,” Fisher said, smiling as she laid down her hands on the table at Bongo Java.
Her car is also office, she said. And, it’s more mobile.
She performs many different roles at Belmont and everything she does is centered on making it better. But, she does have a bucket list she keeps putting off, she said.
At the top of the list, being able to take some time to paint – she loves it.
Article by Tyler Price. Photos by Andrea Hallgren.