As I was taking an evening walk recently with our golden retriever, Annie, it struck me how fortunate we are to have such a splendid campus with its well-kept facilities and natural beauty. We are so close to the center of the city, while at the same time, we have the benefits of being situated on 630 rolling acres along the Cape Fear River.
Tender loving care over the first half-century of our existence is evident everywhere, and the Master Plan for the University that was adopted this past winter will ensure that the same care is extended over the next twenty years and more.
The first site on my walk that caught my eye was the Sophomore Residence Hall presently under construction that rests on the north end of Sink Field. It is so quiet now, but I can imagine all the activity once the fall semester begins and this emerging residential quad being the home for 225 students.
As I turned the corner onto Lowdermilk Drive and headed south, I thought about the plans for the “streetscaping” of this drive, along with Stout View Drive, thus providing for much-needed sidewalks for pedestrians and the next generation of trees. We are committed to keeping Methodist not only safe for our community, but also “green.” The first impression of the campus as one enters is to marvel at the landscaping, so we will make sure that this is a feature that remains constant in future development.
When I turned south on Stout View Drive, I immediately thought of things to come, when in less than three months, we will be holding our first home football game and welcoming visitors to campus. To my right is the new Nursing Building, due to open its doors this summer to a record number of nursing students. This state-of-the-art facility, complete with a virtual hospital, offers so much to our students and is a symbol of excellence that we have come to expect here at Methodist.
There was little activity this evening in the area between the Berns Center and the Riddle Center. At times, this can be the busiest area of campus, with students heading in and out of the Green and Gold Café and playing basketball on the courts, not to mention an athletic contest in Riddle. The parking lot/street/pedestrian way is usually congested, and a reminder of more improvements to come when this area will be transformed into a green space bordered by the expanded Student Center, football field, and a new residence hall. These enhancements will add so much to the vitality of campus life.
Rounding out the rest of the campus on my walk and heading “down back,” there were no tennis matches, late afternoon baseball or softball games, or Professional Golf Management students at the Player Center. They are off to their summer jobs, internships, and travels. But this will soon change as we gear up for the fall semester that begins in August with what may well be another record enrollment – another sign of Methodist’s increasing popularity.
As I head up the hill, through the rest of the residence halls and make my way to what has become our home, I wonder if I am the only college president in America who feels the way I do about my campus. If not, I know there is no president who is prouder of an institution, its founding principles, and its continued commitment to excellence in everything we do.
I invite everyone to take a walk around the campus and celebrate the many blessings we have received as an institution and the shared vision for taking Methodist to the next level. This includes being good stewards of our surroundings so that this and future generations can enjoy the best University campus in America.