It is hard to believe that I have had the best job in America for 100 days! In many respects it seems like I just arrived on the Methodist campus. The excitement that fills the air over what is happening at the University is just as evident today as it was on March 1. I take no credit for the excitement I have witnessed, but I can’t help but mention it because the effect it has on this place is transformative. Let’s just call it the “Monarch effect” and it rubs off on everyone who comes in contact with Methodist.
With the “meet and greets,” welcoming receptions, building tours, town hall meetings, and many one-on-one visits behind me, I can say that I have begun to truly understand what a special university and community we have here. Debbie and I feel so blessed to have been invited to make MU and Fayetteville our new home. Thanks so much to each of you who have made us feel so welcome. This coming week marks the household move from Indiana (Debbie has remained until now to complete her teaching responsibilities), so it will be great to have her join me full time.
Methodist has had its share of celebrations this year, starting well before we arrived with the record fall enrollment, and the news continues to be positive as we anticipate even better numbers this coming fall. The new village style houses around Sink Field will be ready for occupancy and the updating of the existing residence halls will also be complete and ready to welcome students in August. By then the new Professional Nursing Studies Building will be under construction, and, along with the two new Physician Assistant buildings that were dedicated this spring, provide further evidence that Methodist is growing.
Of course the most important celebration of the Spring was Commencement, as it was a time to honor our graduates who distinguished themselves through their academic accomplishments. It should be noted that our 10,000th graduate walked across the stage that day! We were also delighted to have Holly Petraeus with us as Commencement Speaker, delivering an important and heartfelt message to our students.
The most recent news is the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships, where the Methodist Women garnered 3rd place in the nation! What’s more, two of our female athletes were national champions in their events and Ruby Blackwell was named National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. Add to this the fact that in May our Women’s Golf Team won their 14th consecutive national championship and our Men’s Golf Team finished third in the country. Amazing!
If there was a low point since my arrival, it was my golf performance at the annual Hall of Fame Golf Tournament at King’s Grant last week. The new president sorely needs golf lessons!
I am reminded of something I stated during an interview on “Monarch Moments” shortly after I arrived on campus. I spoke of the key hallmarks of a university delivering a “culture of excellence” are signature people, signature programs, and signature facilities. If an institution doesn’t have signature people, the rest of the ingredients don’t and won’t matter. The University is so fortunate to have outstanding people across the board – students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees – all committed to the same ideal: making Methodist the very best place it can possibly be. That is why I repeatedly note in so many of my comments and speeches that “the best is yet to be.”