Best Year Ever

This week marks the beginning of the new academic year at Methodist University, and the first thought that comes to mind is that this will be our Best Year Ever.

There are so many ways to define “best” for a university campus, and in a society that freely uses superfluous rankings and descriptions, one could easily dismiss this claim as yet another example of a strategy to gain attention.

So let me share a few reasons why I believe this is without question an exceptional year:

Highest Freshman Enrollment Ever. We expect a record number of new students this fall with great geographic diversity, representing most of the 50 states and over 55 countries.

Highest Total Enrollment Ever. There is every indication that we will have a record overall enrollment, exceeding last year’s record of 2,478 students.

New Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program. We have received approval for our first doctoral program, thus continuing to meet the needs of our local health care partners and prospective students interested in entering the health care field.

New Health Sciences Building. We will be breaking ground this fall on yet another new  building. It will be a stunning facility located near the entrance to campus and adjacent to our nationally-recognized Physician Assistant Program’s facilities.

Community Appearance Award. Methodist University will receive an award this week from the City of Fayetteville’s Joint Appearance Commission for its improvements along Ramsey Street that have helped enhance the City’s and University’s appearance. We will make further improvements this fall, including new banners and signs at the campus entrance.

Best Tennis Facility. Methodist University was recently recognized by the American Sports Builders Association and will receive an award for the Gene Clayton Tennis Center as a winner in the Outdoor Tennis category. The University continues to invest in the quality of its facilities as a part of its new Master Plan and commit to providing the very best facilities for teaching, learning, competition, recreation, and the arts.

More Campus Improvements. Additional landscaping, repaving of parking lots, new fitness equipment, improvements in the Berns Center, and new furnishings in the residence halls are just a few of the other improvements that will greet students and guests who come to the campus this fall.

Best Athletic Program. Methodist is proud of its strong athletic tradition and is celebrating its selection as the best athletic program in the USA South Athletic Conference, having won the 2013-14 President’s Cup in the Overall standings. Among our fall sports, those teams coming off of conference championships include Men’s Soccer and Football. Our MU Cheer Squad also returns with a national championship earned this past year.

Best Financial Position Ever. With another balanced budget for the past year and recent renewal of our BBB bond rating from Fitch, we are excited about the University’s strong financial position which sends a message to our community and donors that we are an exceptional institution.

Most Successful Campaign Ever. With two years remaining in our Building Excellence Campaign, at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, we had reached the $27.5 million mark in our capital campaign. This surpasses the highest amount ever raised in any Methodist University campaign. We are so appreciative of the many contributors and volunteers who have made this fund-raising effort so successful.

Best in Technology. The University has made major improvements in technology over the summer. We are now a “wireless campus” that serves all of the University buildings, and have created a number of areas across the campus that showcase our use of technology, including the Library, residence halls, and academic buildings.

Unequaled Transformational Experiences. What better way to demonstrate our commitment to preparing our students for successful careers and lives of meaning and purpose than to provide them with transformational experiences while they are still at Methodist? As we partner with area businesses and organizations, we offer an unmatched opportunity for each and every student to be involved in an internship or community engagement experience that will give them the “competitive edge” in securing employment after graduation or being admitted into the nation’s best graduate and professional schools.  Our Career Services Office has recently expanded its staff to include a coordinator of internships, and they will be rolling out a new and expanded internship program. Our goal is for EVERY MU student to have the opportunity for an internship before graduating. And there’s more. Through the MU Journey, students can study abroad, conduct research, participate in leadership programs, and be part of a community engagement team. What awesome opportunities!

Best Faculty and Staff Ever. What would a University be without exceptional people? With the new appointments we have made to the faculty and staff who have joined our ranks, we believe this is by far the best group ever assembled on the campus. We are so proud of their accomplishments and commitment to our students. Time and time again, I am told by alumni that what they appreciated most about their Methodist University education was the caring attitude of their professors, coaches, and mentors who were committed to their success.

With this being the Best Year Ever for Methodist University, is there any wonder why I frequently say that I have the Best Job in America? I invite you to come to campus for the first time, or if you haven’t been to MU in a while, please return for a visit. You will be truly amazed at the growth of our University and how it is transforming students’ lives every day in so many different ways.  Join us for one of the many lectures, athletic contests, concerts, and other events on campus. You’ll quickly discover and then agree, that this may indeed be our Best Year Ever. And the Best is Yet to Be!

Ben Hancock

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