Cedarville University Professors: 100-plus Years in the College Classroom

Two Cedarville University professors. Two completely different subject areas. But one thing in common – faithfulness over the course of long, storied careers.

Dr. J. Murray Murdoch, distinguished professor of history and government, and Dr. Lyle Anderson, senior professor of music, began their careers at Cedarville University five years apart: Murdoch in 1965 and Anderson in 1970. During the university’s annual faculty and staff service awards program in August, Murdoch was honored for 55 years at Cedarville and Anderson for 50, together a total of 105 years’ experience in Cedarville’s classrooms.

Cedarville University Professors: 100-plus Years in the College ClassroomBoth have left an indelible mark on the university and on the lives of thousands of students.

“It’s been wonderful,” Murdoch said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. I’ve always said, where else can you teach people you want to teach the things you want to teach them? I am able to blend theology, worldview and history. I’m building into students, investing in their spiritual life as well as their intellectual life.”

For Anderson, it was a similar refrain.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” he offered. “It’s all because of the faithfulness of the Lord that we have the opportunity to interact with our students, with our peers and with the community at large. It has been very gratifying to have this opportunity to build into lives in the classroom, outside of the classroom, and through this medium God has called me to use for my ministry, namely music.”

In addition to his 50 years in the classroom, his wife, Connie, a professor of keyboard pedagogy, also celebrates 50 years teaching in 2020.

“Connie has been teaching as long as me, half of that as a part-time adjunct professor, and the rest as a full-time instructor,” he explained. “Both of us are [Cedarville] alumni. Cedarville is where we met, and we thank God for how he orchestrated all of that, that we have been able to serve arm in arm.”

Both Murdoch and Anderson have created an amazing legacy at Cedarville.

Murdoch pioneered an African studies course at Cedarville during his first year. The course has gone through a number of name changes, and the content has changed to meet the times, but the Social Movements class has been a benchmark experience for thousands of students at Cedarville. For the last seven years, the course has focused on the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the gender movement.

Murdoch has also served as one of the leaders of the annual civil rights bus tour, which visits historic locations associated with the civil rights movement, such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, site of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting march.

He also helped formulate Cedarville’s expression of grief about racism after the death of George Floyd and affirmed the university’s commitment to biblical justice.

Anderson’s commitment to music as missions has been demonstrated through his leadership of approximately 75 concert tours and mission trips with either the concert chorale or the men’s glee club.

“The first mission trip was to Australia with our family in 1982,” Anderson said. “We presented 76 concert ministries in 30 days. Most days we were at schools, churches or public venues, singing, playing piano and sharing our testimony. Our children were 6 and 8 years old.”

Other mission trips included the Czech Republic, China, Switzerland and Scotland. “We took two trips to Brazil with a 12-member ensemble which sang all of its music in Portuguese to support missionaries and their ministry,” he said.

Anderson, 72, plans to continue teaching, while Murdoch, 83, is in the process of stepping back from his faculty responsibilities. He is teaching this fall, but will not have any classes spring semester.

“I have served under four presidents and learned important lessons from all of them,” Murdoch said.
“I’m so grateful for our commitment to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. As long as we’re anchored there, we’ll be fine.”

“Connie and I are blessed with good health and want to go as long as the Lord confirms we should,” Anderson said. “It’s been an overwhelming blessing to be able to prepare students to integrate their faith through this medium of vocal music. What an incredible, humbling privilege to help over a thousand students be able to sing what they believe.”