I spent two days in New York last week – all part of our efforts to expand MU’s footprint and imprint. First of all, I attended a meeting with presidents from other universities from across the country where we had an opportunity to hear from the heads of some of the leading private foundations. The message they delivered was clear and consistent: a commitment to access to higher education and to degree completion. I couldn’t help but think of our mission and current initiatives that focus on student success and adding value to a university education. The fact that these are leaders in the foundation world was encouraging and validating, although I know that success in fund raising efforts in support of our initiatives will need to start closer to home as we make a case for why our programs can serve as a national model for higher education.
My second meeting was with a group of editors from The New York Times. They shared various views on how universities could receive national exposure, and gave examples of past successes in such media coverage. Bottom line, they focused on how institutions need to do a better job of telling their story and creating “stories” that will inspire or motivate readers. Once again, I was reminded of our new Admissions view book, often referred to as “the largest view book in the country,” and what a wonderful job we have done in telling the story about some of our amazing students. I would put this publication up against any newspaper in its content and inspirational value. Now we just need to repeat these stories and many others as widely as we can through our marketing efforts and informal communications in our attempt to take our light from underneath the proverbial basket.
The highlight of my trip to New York was a dinner held for alumni, parents and friends as a part of our “MU on the Move” tour to 15 different cities in the U.S. The group assembled was so appreciative of the University’s outreach efforts and hoped we would visit on a regular basis. I also heard some amazing stories that have been a hallmark of these events. These included an alumnus who directs a mission that serves the needs of the city’s homeless, an alumna who is a graduate of our health care management program and works in downtown New York, and an appreciative parent who believes his son is receiving a great education and unequaled support through his participation in our PGA Golf Management Program.
I always return home from these trips feeling even more motivated and inspired to serve as your president. I am convinced we are on the right track with our educational programs and initiatives like the “MU Journey.” Our alumni, parents and friends provide a living testament to the value of a Methodist degree and remind us of our primary role of preparing our students to be successful in their careers and to lead lives of meaning and purpose.