40 under Forty: Our Community’s Succession Plan

40 Under FortyThis past Friday night I had the honor of attending and speaking at The Fayetteville Observer’s annual “40 Under Forty” dinner held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Among the 40 honorees were six individuals with Methodist University degrees, including Malia Kalua Allen ’04, Jasmine Coleman ’05, Jennifer Kirby Fincher ’02, Kamina Fitzgerald ’03, Doris Munoz ’06, and Kimberly Sublett ’11MBA. And this doesn’t include other winners who have roots at Methodist, including Ben Chambers, grandson of long-time trustee Charles Warren, and Meagan McCabe, who formerly worked in MU’s Career Services. As I state’d to the assembled group, it felt like MU had “swept the Oscars” with so many winners in one evening! I am so proud of our graduates who have assumed leadership positions in the greater Fayetteville community.

My message to the audience, and in particular to the 40 young professionals, was similar to the one I share with our students at the beginning of each year. I truly believe that I have the best job in America … for me, and I want our students to aspire to have the best job in America … for them. In looking at the credentials of the honorees, it was clear that they, too, believe they have the best job in America and live their professional and personal lives with such a positive attitude. Therefore, there were at least 41 individuals in the room who believed they had the best job in America, and I challenged the rest of the audience to encourage these young people to continue their quest for excellence.

My second message had to do with finding “The One Thing.” Again, in my opening remarks to new students I talk about finding their “One Thing,” meaning their passion that will inspire them to maximize their experiences during the MU Journey. I note that for each student the “One Thing” will be different, and the key is to try so many things as a part of their quest, because when they finally discover their “One Thing,” it will be transformational and set the stage for a successful MU career and ultimately a life full of meaning and purpose. I end my message to the students by saying that they are my “One Thing,” thereby communicating to them that there is nothing more important to the president of the University than their collegiate success.

The individual inductees of the 2013 Class of 40 Under Forty have unmistakably found their “One Thing.” Their accomplishments, enthusiasm, and passion for what they are doing in their professions and in the community clearly demonstrate that they are transforming this community just as they are transforming their own lives through service to others. Their “One Thing” is the greater Fayetteville community, and I called on everyone assembled for the evening to recognize and support their contributions. This class of 40, the two classes that preceded them, and those that follow represent the greater Fayetteville’s “succession plan.” We will need for their passion to continue and for their volunteer interests to evolve into leadership positions with the many institutions that will benefit from their experiences, perspectives, and drive. For it is people who define institutions, and not institutions that define people, and Fayetteville is in good hands as we look to the future.

My final challenge to the Class of 2013 was to think down the road 20 years hence, at the “60 Under 60” dinner, and try to see themselves in that audience and whether or not they had lived up to their potential and assumed those leadership positions – that their “One Thing” had been realized. I asked them to remember three things from my message: (1) people matter and they are what makes the difference – something this 40 Under Forty Class clearly understands; (2) you can’t do things alone – you need to form partnerships with fellow inductees and others to create a sustainable team approach to address challenges and opportunities; and (3) the best is yet to be.

Yes, I have the best job in America at the best University in America in the best community in America. And if you don’t believe it, I invite you to sit down with members of the graduating MU Class of 2013 or The Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013. You’ll hear about their “One Thing” and their passion for the Journey.

And yes, the best is yet to be.

100 Partnerships

Methodist University is fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with The Fayetteville Observer as a community partner. President and Publisher Charles W. Broadwell is a leader in this community and demonstrates daily that his “One Thing” is the people of Fayetteville.  Furthermore, he and others from the Observer serve on a number of advisory boards at the University, sharing their passion and expertise that is so beneficial as we strive to provide the very best educational and practical experiences for our students.

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Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

I had a dream the other night, and while I usually don’t remember them, one phrase stood out: “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.” In this instance “ordinary people” refers to “every day people” as opposed to those possessing certain advantages above others.

This caused me to reflect on the last few days—typical days, mind you, for this University president. I was reminded of so many examples on our campus of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our students, faculty, staff, and community offer so many examples of promoting a “culture of excellence” that is so much a part of our “culture of excellence.”

Let me provide just a few examples . . .

. . . at our Center for Entrepreneurship Summit several individuals in the community were recognized for their success in business . . . ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

. . . at our Athletic Awards Ceremony, student athletes were recognized for their success on and off the field . . . Methodist University providing opportunities for ordinary students to do extraordinary things.

. . . at a luncheon within the University’s endowed professors, I engaged in a conversation with outstanding faculty or are committed to enabling ordinary students to do extraordinary things.

. . . at a luncheon held for the University’s Board of Visitors, I was impressed with the community representatives in the room, all assembled so that they as a group of ordinary citizens, could do extraordinary things for our students.

. . . at induction ceremonies for the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and XIII Women’s Leadership Society, I witnessed ordinary students being recognized for extraordinary leadership abilities based on their University experiences.

On Saturday, May 11, we will celebrate Commencement. On that occasion, we will hear from two individuals who have done extraordinary things . . .

. . . Al Cleveland, a successful attorney and an ordinary man who has done extraordinary things for this University and the community.

. . . Lieutenant General Daniel Allyn, an American hero, an ordinary man who has done extraordinary things for his country.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In this University environment the stage is set, through a culture of excellence, for our ordinary students to do extraordinary things. In our community, the stage is set for our friends to collectively accomplish extraordinary things to benefit our students. They serve as critical role models and mentors to help guide the way.

Methodist University is so grateful to those who have created pathways for our students to do some extraordinary things. In the end, that’s the only reason we are all here.

It’s what is expected of us.

It’s what is required of us.

It’s what makes an extraordinary University. 

100 Partnerships

At the recent Career Fair sponsored by the Methodist University Office of Career Services, a number of regional businesses and organizations took time out of their schedule to provide information and career guidance to our students. I would like to recognize just a few of these partners who are committed to our students and contribute to the environment that produces extraordinary graduates: PWC (Public Works Commission); Finish Line, IRS (Internal Revenue Service), BB&T, The Fayetteville Observer, and the State Employees’ Credit Union.

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A Global View

GlobalEducation4I spent part of last week meeting with members of our faculty and staff, discussing ways we can expand international experiences for our students. I was impressed with the level of interest these individuals displayed, as they understand how important it is for all Methodist University students to have experiences outside of the classroom that prepare them to be global citizens.

In December 1951, John F. Kennedy suggested to a group that “young college graduates would find a full life” if they volunteered overseas. Then, in March 1961, President Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order “to promote world peace and friendship.” In the 50 years since that historic act, hundreds of thousands of college students have answered the call, and places like Methodist are instilling the principles of peace and friendship through undergraduate engagement, thus setting the stage for graduates to live lives of meaning and purpose as they truly understand what it means to be a global citizen.

Through the Center for Global Education and the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad, Methodist University has invested in two initiatives to maximize student engagement. Our international recruitment efforts bring over 100 students from 55 countries to our campus annually, creating one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the country. Students from around the world have an opportunity to study and work alongside one another. As our University Chaplain, Rev. Mike Safley, likes to say, “we get it right.” The world stage could learn from this community comprised of so many different faiths, political systems, and cultures that thrives and sets an example for other parts of the world.

The second initiative is our Study Abroad program, highlighted by our amazing faculty or staff-led short term study abroad experiences. Ten different study and travel tours were offered this academic year, held either during Spring Break or our emerging May Term. Such experiences expose our students to other countries through a more economically feasible model that also accommodates busy academic schedules. It also paves the way for some students who go on to participate in semester-long study abroad programs. In addition, there were three different mission trips sponsored through the Office of Campus Ministry during Fall Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break. Every student involved in these trips came back sharing stories about their unique “transformational experiences.”

What does the future hold? Our strategic plan and initiatives launched last year as a part of the MU Journey call for a doubling of the number of international students and study abroad opportunities over the next five years. We simply must expand in order to meet the growing interest in these programs and their critical role in preparing our students for the world of further study or professions they will enter.

Methodist University is a player on the global stage and has a critical role to play as we move forward. We are preparing our students to be leaders who can think critically, exhibit creativity, solve problems, and possess a keen understanding of the world around them. I am proud of our students’ willingness to step outside their comfort zone, and equally proud of the faculty who are taking them there.

President Kennedy was thinking of the transformational power of young college graduates when he created the Peace Corps, and he was right. Five decades later, Methodist University students are getting it right, thanks to their faculty mentors who will not settle for anything less for their students from around the world, preparing to serve the world.

Projects for Peace | The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

We remember and give thanks to Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who died April 23. She was 106 years old. Known for challenging today’s students to work effectively toward ensuring lasting peace in the world, Methodist University students took her vision to heart and acted boldly on her desire for world peace.

She is known fondly for saying, “My challenge to you is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war.”

With awards totaling over $90,000, our students stepped up to meet her challenge. Recently, Esra’a Al-Shawafi’s project, “Sewing and Business Skills for Economical and Peaceful Integration of Women in Society” was selected to receive funding for summer 2013. In 2012, Nyoma Clement Nickonora and Talata Evers (South Sudan) engaged in a global peace project with fellow South Sudanese student Joy Minalla. Their project was titled, “Rebuilding the Ruins and Promoting Peace.” In 2011, “Collecting Smiles in Srebrenica” was spearheaded by Anna Causevic, Dzenana Dzanic, Emina Hodzic, and Samra Mrkovic. In 2010, Fredy Oxom and Camilo Rubiano completed a project in Guatemala titled “Build to Educate.” In 2009, Milca Baptista initiated a community water project in East Timor. In 2008, Heather Eckhardt and Marco Marin completed a greenhouse project in Ecuador and Gladys Michelle Reyes Chiapas answered a “Call for Help” in Honduras.  In, 2007, three projects were completed by Sana Sabri (India), Rahila Muhibi (Afghanistan), and Husein Nasiro-Sigo (Ethiopia).

With a lengthy list of completed projects and many other outstanding proposals, I am confident our students will continue to carry on the legacy of Mrs. Davis, ensuring that they are doing their part to become global citizens who are committed to building peace.

100 Partnerships

Methodist University is indebted to the Shelby Davis United World College Scholars Program which partners with 76 U.S. colleges to make it possible for students from the 12 United World Colleges to attend these institutions. What a wonderful legacy for these students and for the receiving institutions who benefit from these engaged and highly motivated students. It proves that the vision of one family can have a magnificent impact on global education and the promotion of peace, setting an example for every student attending these institutions.

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Methodist University

I’ve run a marathon. The exhilarating feeling you have when you see that finish line in front of you—the sense of accomplishment that you have met a remarkable personal goal. The last thing that is on your mind is that someone would harm you. And the fact that you are so mentally focused, and physically and emotionally exhausted, means that you are also so vulnerable.

Two of my children are runners and have participated in many marathons. In fact, one has actually run the Boston Marathon and knows every turn, every crack in the pavement, every excruciating moment along those 26.2 miles that define the city.

My daughter lives and works in Boston. She called us yesterday to tell us she was okay. Still, I wish I were there to give her a big hug. I texted her today and told her I loved her.

My story is not unique. I am sure there are many who have loved ones affected by Monday’s tragedy in Boston. Many others have run marathons—Boston and otherwise—and share similar feelings. And yes, as far away as Fayetteville, North Carolina, and on the campus of Methodist University, we make adjustments, we cope, we pray for those who are suffering, and we appropriately change our priorities.

Late today, we received a message on behalf of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, indicating that he would have to postpone his visit to Methodist to be our guest for tomorrow’s inaugural Presidential Speaker Series. Dr. Gupta is where he needs to be, and where all Americans should be focused, in Boston, trying to help a nation make sense out of a senseless act.

The reason Dr. Sanjay Gupta was chosen as our first Presidential Series Speaker is the same reason he had to postpone his visit to campus tomorrow; it is because of his ability to tell the story in a way that helps us understand what is happening, as if he were right in our living room talking to us.

We were hoping to have Dr. Gupta in Methodist University’s “living room” tomorrow night. For now, we’ll share him with millions of Americans who need him more than we do. And we’ll pray for his safe passage until he joins us, along with the victims and their families and friends in Boston. We will give our thanks for those who help us understand, whether they are journalists who relate to their audiences or Methodist University faculty who relate to our students.

26.2 – it will from now on mean more than a race. It will remind us of a tragedy, but more importantly, it will remind us, as such races were designed to do, of the resilience of the human spirit. It will remind us of our ability to endure so much more than we ever imagined we could, to heal thanks to the strength and support of others, and to move forward to race another day.

My thoughts and prayers to all members of the Methodist University community,

Ben Hancock

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Leadership and the Journey of MU Students

Over the past two weeks, I have had the privilege of meeting with two of our outstanding student leadership groups on campus: the inaugural class of 41 Leadership Fellows, sponsored by the Lura Tally Center for Leadership Development, and Student Leaders at Methodist (SL@M), sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs.  Through my interaction with these young people and so many other student leaders, I am convinced that the future of Methodist University, and indeed our country, is bright.

For the Methodist University community, these students will progress into leadership positions on the campus as upperclassmen, and ultimately be engaged alumni, assuming leadership positions with advisory boards, regional alumni groups, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the Board of Trustees. For the communities who will be fortunate enough to be the home of our graduates, they will be the beneficiaries of dedicated and caring individuals who possess the skill set to be effective leaders, and the experience in collaborating with others to solve problems and bringing people of all backgrounds together.

Our country was conceived on the principle of citizens “giving back” and being engaged in their communities. It is what makes America strong. It’s what makes individual communities strong. It’s what makes individual universities strong. What a wonderful time to be in our country, in this community, and at Methodist University.

During an informal discussion Debbie and I hosted in our home for the Leadership Fellows, I asked the students to share why they applied to be Fellows. I was moved by their responses that included “I want to improve my leadership skills,” “I want to be a better servant leader,” “I want to enhance my skills in preparation for my profession,” and “I want to be an effective servant leader.”

Methodist University students make this a better community and they are committed to “building better communities” wherever they go. I have the best job in America because of these exceptional young people. Methodist University gets it right because these student leaders are getting it right. No other university in America offers the same opportunities to its students, in part because no other University has the resources and community support at its disposal to offer its students.

Once again, the best is yet to be. The best for Methodist and the best for our country and its many communities is yet to be—all because of MU students and the future they will help shape and lead.

100 Partnerships

One of the distinguishing features of the Lura Tally Center for Leadership Development, directed by Dr. Andrew Ziegler, is its Advisory Board. This group of outstanding leaders takes the time to share their perspectives for the betterment of our program, and serve as excellent mentors and role models for the next generation of leaders emerging from the Methodist University.  We are so grateful for individuals like Charles Broadwell, Loleta Foster, Harry Shaw, George Breece, Terri Union, Mary Kinney, Burt VanderClute, Judge Mary Ann Tally, Cynthia Wilson, and many others who serve on this Board. They exemplify the real benefit of having community partners to strengthen our programs, and at the same time, they serve the community by helping to develop future leaders.

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A ‘Military Friendly’ University … It’s More than a Tagline

Methodist UniversityOver the past 48 hours, Methodist University has received a great deal of publicity for its announcement to provide free classes to soldiers at our Ft. Bragg location in response to the elimination of Military Tuition Assistance (TA) offered to the Army and other branches of the Armed Forces. This action by Methodist was a gesture on our part to show our support for the troops and what they mean to this community and nation. Furthermore, active-duty soldiers, veterans, and their family members represent a significant number of MU students, so we wanted to demonstrate how committed we are to their continued education and progress toward a degree.

I want to commend the faculty and staff for their individual responses at this time of uncertainty for soldiers engaged in their educational pursuits. True to our “student-centered” approach, there have been many suggestions on how to address this situation. Faculty members have even offered to teach classes for free. In fact, we have not only offered free tuition for existing classes, but due to demand, we are expanding enrollment and adding additional sections for classes beginning next week.

The response from soldiers, community members, the media, and others has been overwhelming. When asked why we took this action, I think Yasmin Rivera, director of Methodist University at Ft. Bragg, put it best. “For many active-duty soldiers, it (the suspension of TA funding) put a halt to the educational goals they work so hard to achieve while defending our country. We want to show our service members that we appreciate their sacrifices, both on the field and off, and we are willing to do what we can during times of uncertainty. ‘Military friendly’ is not just a tagline—it’s a commitment we take seriously.”

Once again, Methodist gets it right. That’s why I have the best job in America, in the best community in America, made possible because of the best service members in America, who deserve an education.

100 Partnerships

It is very appropriate to feature our relationship with Ft. Bragg and its leadership in this column. There has never been a great university without a great community, and there is no more important element of our community than Ft. Bragg. MU benefits through collaborative educational programs, for sure, but there is so much more. It is the site for so many clinical rotations, internships, and other experiential offerings. The top leaders often visit the campus to lecture or serve in advisory capacities. Musical groups come to campus to perform, demonstrating just one more example of the tremendous resources they provide to all.

Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Irizarry stopped by my office last night, stating that he simply wanted to shake my hand for our gesture of free tuition for soldiers. He talked about the important role universities like Methodist have in educating our soldiers. Having such a patriot take the time to call on me was a humbling experience. It is I who should be thanking him and the rest of his colleagues.

Partnerships suggest reciprocal arrangements. Thus, it was without hesitation we immediately announced the free tuition program. That’s what partners do. America strong. Methodist University strong.

Ben Hancock

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A Happy Anniversary to the President Who Has the Best Job in America

Today marks my second anniversary as president of Methodist University. What a wonderful ride it has been. I pinch myself each morning and think about how blessed I am to have a wonderful family, good health, and the Best Job in America. Not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy their “dream job,” and I want to thank every member of the MU community for making it possible.

We all have much to be proud of as we reflect on what has happened at Methodist University over its history, and I can comment from experience on the last two. There is much to celebrate as we look at the signature programs and facilities we have put into place and the individuals—those “signature people” I like to talk about—who have led the way without fanfare, just doing their own part in making Methodist University the best university it can be.

Earlier this week, and in light of last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, I sent individual updates to faculty and staff, students, parents, and alumni, highlighting the many activities at the University and noting actions taken at the meeting. There was so much positive news that I decided to save some for a later update.

Why do I believe there is so much good news, in spite of all the reported challenges facing our country and our world, including concerns about college accessibility and affordability? First of all, I am “bullish” on America, and believe that our country has flourished and will continue to flourish because we have the best problem solvers on this planet. Secondly, I am “bullish” on Methodist, because not only do we graduate generation after generation of some of the best problem solvers in America, but also because we add value. Simply put, those who come here to study, to work, or to attend an event or an athletic contest gain a great deal from that experience. With our emphasis on providing an environment that is committed to a “culture of excellence,” we do it better than any other university in America.

In closing, let me make the same pledge on the first day of my third year as I made on the first day of my first year. I promise to do all I can to move this University forward and to lead our collective efforts to deliver on the promise we make to every student and every visitor who enters our gate. We deliver the finest University experience, period. We are student-centered as we are people-centered. Signature people educating signature people. One student at a time. Preparing for the next generation.

What a wonderful time to be associated with the Best University in America. And to think the best is yet to be. I think I’ll pinch myself again!

100 Partnerships Update

This week I was fortunate to attend the regular meeting of the Advisory Board to the Health Care Administration (HCA) Program, a group comprised of healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines. At a time where Methodist is expanding its health science programs, such input has never been more vital. The best health care educational programs in the country gain that status by responding to the needs of health care providers as well as the interest of prospective students. This and the other advisory boards associated with our programs ensure that we are on target and that our students will be successful in their chosen careers.

Ben Hancock

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Supporting a Student’s Faith Journey

Elevated VisionsLast Sunday, Debbie and I had the opportunity to visit the First United Methodist Church of Cary (FUMC) as the guests of University Trustee Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier, and his wife, Mary Ellen. Joining us were University Chaplain Mike Safley, and Dr. Michael Martin and the MU Chorale. In total, we spoke at five different events, and the Chorale performed at two services.

During my remarks, I spoke about Methodist University’s commitment to delivering on the promise we make to every student who enters our gates to ensure they succeed in every aspect of their University experience. This includes our understanding that a student’s faith journey may also be a part of their growth. This is in keeping with my opening remarks to students that I present each fall, when I share with them that from a faculty and staff perspective they are “our one thing.” This is meant to communicate to incoming students our commitment to their having a truly transformational experience.

In speaking with the FUMC Youth Assembly, I asked them if they thought they were members of the “Best Church in America,” and I repeated the question to the congregation at each of the subsequent worship services. The overwhelming and enthusiastic response was yes, which gives credence to my statement at every University event that I have the “Best Job in America” because I am President of the “Best University in America.” Should any of us want to be associated with institutions that we do not feel are the best in America—for them?

One of the fundamental principles of our faith is that we believe that our God sees each of us as his “one thing,” meaning that he has time for us and that we benefit from a hand-crafted faith experience like no other person experiences. I firmly believe that Methodist University delivers on a hand-crafted university experience like no other university. This includes a rich variety of campus worship options that engage over 400 of our students on a weekly basis, making it perhaps the largest youth ministry program in the state. Service learning is also an important component of this ministry, as these same students are active in volunteer opportunities, including mission work teams. 

Chaplain Mike Safley often comments that those students participating in these experiences have a 100% graduation rate from Methodist, which means that students who are involved stay at an institution and earn their degrees. Indeed, if we are to truly deliver on the promise, we know that one pathway for students to ensure their success is through their faith journey.

The future of Methodist University is bright, in part, because of its affiliation with the Methodist Church and its support for the expression of faith by all students. Signature partnerships like the one with First United Methodist Church Cary are key. With plans for a new Chapel on the horizon, we will be able to accommodate the increased interest by students in understanding and expressing their faith. This opportunity is what makes America strong and Methodist University strong, and supports our claim of being the “Best University in America.”

100 Partnerships

We are pleased to count First United Methodist Church of Cary as one of our signature partnerships and are grateful for the support of Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier and his staff.  Through such partnerships, we are able to serve young people at these churches and invite them to join the MU Journey.


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It’s Personal

A great deal of my time is spent working with my colleagues here on campus to identify ways we can increase student success. There are many retention activities under way— all designed to deliver a personalized approach to issues facing our students. In the end, no two students are the same, and thus the response to addressing the challenges they face must be “hand crafted.”

Methodist gets this right. We are delivering on the promise we make to each student who passes through our gate to maximize his or her chances of succeeding. Sometimes the issues are academic; other times they may be financial. But whatever the issue, we have developed an “all hands on deck” response to ensure that no student falls through the cracks.

In a few more weeks, I will celebrate my two-year anniversary as president of Methodist University. I am often asked what has surprised or impressed me the most during my tenure. Without hesitation, I always point out the “signature people” we have here at MU who are committed to our students and their success.

My coming to Methodist was a very personal decision and remains very personal, as Debbie and I have embraced this campus and community. We are dedicated to enhancing the “culture of excellence,” which is a hallmark of this University. And what an amazing feeling to know that for our faculty and staff, “it’s personal.” Our 2,200 students are the beneficiaries of this hand‑crafted approach, and not only will they have amazing university experiences while they are at Methodist, but they will go on to lead successful lives full of meaning and purpose.

It’s the Methodist way.

Partnership Update

We continue to celebrate the “100 Partnerships” that we have with the community that also contribute to our students’ success through providing many opportunities for experiential learning. One group that is truly making a difference is the Advisory Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship. This diverse group of business people get together several times each year and is working with Center Director Marty Cayton in developing an expanded vision for the Center. Many thanks to the CFE Advisory Board chaired by Tom Keith, President, Tom Keith & Associates, for their dedication. We look forward to hearing more about the CFE’s plans for the future.

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New Year’s Resolutions

We all make them—promises we make to ourselves of things we plan to improve during the coming year. However, we are more likely to keep those promises if we share them with others.

I remember in January 2005 I made an announcement to my family that I was going to run a marathon. There was a look of disbelief around the room, which actually increased my commitment to delivering on this New Year’s resolution. Eleven months later I crossed the finish line (along with my son, Ben) at the Richmond Marathon, and since then I have gone on to complete another full marathon (this past fall in Chicago) and six half marathons.

As president, I also make resolutions—some privately and others publicly—on ways I hope to improve the quality of life at Methodist University. As another calendar year begins, I thought I would make a New Year’s resolution for MU, knowing that by making this a “public resolution,” I will do everything I can to meet this goal.

My New Year’s resolution for Methodist is to improve our freshman retention rate and make sure we are on track to reach the goal of 65% as outlined in the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. We were as high as 62% last year and we are making great progress through our Center for Student Success and other initiatives.

Why have I selected this area for my resolution? Because nothing is more important in what we do as a University than to deliver on the promise we make to every new student who comes through our gate that he or she will receive an exceptional education. If we don’t deliver on this promise, the rest of our goals will not matter.

I look forward to reporting further progress in future communications, and to meeting with various constituents as we first identify and then address the various hurdles that prevent students from succeeding.

A University committed to a “culture of excellence” develops signature programs that will foster excellence. Our Student Success Program is one such program and we will invest the time and resources necessary to maximize our results in this endeavor.

100 Partnerships Update

Partnerships with community organizations enhance our retention efforts as Methodist University creates opportunities for experiential learning through organizations and corporations. As we highlight “100 partnerships” during the 2012-13 year, it provides an opportunity to say “thank you” to those who are making a difference in the lives of our students who will in term make a difference in their communities.

We are fortunate to have the support of Fayetteville and surrounding communities. There has never been a great university without a great city, and we are fortunate to have progressive cities and leaders accessible to our students, faculty and staff as they enjoy a terrific quality of life, as well as benefit from a quality education. We salute the All-America City of Fayetteville and Mayor Tony Chavonne, and Spring Lake and Mayor Chris Rey for their support and interest in Methodist University.

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