When a “B” Stands for Excellence

Here at Methodist, we talk a great deal about our culture of excellence. In fact, this is articulated as Goal #1 in the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. Throughout the past year, I have promoted this “culture of excellence” theme by talking about the three elements that define excellence at an institution: (1) signature people; (2) signature programs; and (3) signature facilities.

Does this mean Methodist can assess its success in implementing the Strategic Plan by receiving an “A” on key initiatives that are designed to improve the quality of education and overall campus life? The most immediate response should be “yes,” as goals and subsequent implementation plans need to have measureable outcomes, and what could be more relevant at an institution than to have a grading scale where an “A” represents the best performance possible? 

I have recently been reminded that there are indeed exceptions to rules, and the recent investment grade BBB bond rating the University received from both Fitch and Standard & Poors represents high marks from these two agencies that have helped us move forward with our $16,875,000 bond offering. In fact, when the bonds were offered for sale this week, over $88,000,000 in purchase requests were received. Now that represents in very important financial terms that potential investors are “bullish” on Methodist University.  And this wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our trustees and University staff who gave an “A” performance over multiple years that set the stage for this hugely successful bond offering. 

At Methodist, we are excited about the future and all the plans we have to take the University to the next level. The bond issue, along with accumulated cash reserves and contributions from so many donors, has set the stage for us to move forward with the implementation of Phase I of the Master Plan. In fact, visitors to the campus will soon see evidence of these improvements, as we will be creating a new streetscape along Ramsey Street, providing necessary enhancements and the next generation of trees on Lowdermilk Drive and Joe Stout View Drive, extend the north entrance to the Trustees Building, and totally renovate the Library.  And to think that this was made possible, in part, with a “B” grade!

Needless to say, I am delighted that MU is receiving high marks in pursuit of excellence.  As we begin the fall semester, there are so many things to celebrate about our University, and I look forward to bringing news to you in the coming weeks, featuring other programs that are receiving high marks. In the story of the investment grade BBB bond rating, signature people sought validation from signature organizations in order to build signature facilities. In my book, that is an “AAA rating” in support of Methodist University. It’s a great time to be a Monarch!

Marathon Training Update

My “long run” this week was 12 miles (7 weeks to the Chicago Marathon).  With so much happening this week with the opening of the semester, I had to find time to squeeze this distance in on the treadmill. Have you ever worked out that long on a treadmill? My only salvation was that Debbie and I watched three episodes of Downton Abbey back to back in the process. Would you call that multi-tasking or “multi-treading?” So what will I do this coming week when it is up to 14 miles? Stay tuned for my next blog, as I hope to hold the inaugural “Weekly Walk with the President” in support of our campus-wide wellness initiative. I won’t ask participants to stay with me for 14 miles, but I have paced off a nice one-mile loop that should provide a good workout.

Ben Hancock

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