As I wrap up my fi rst full academic year at Methodist University, I would like to turn the spotlight on those students who have successfully completed their undergraduate or graduate degree programs. This Saturday, we will honor 180 candidates for graduation at the 49th Annual Spring Commencement Ceremony — graduates who have worked hard during their collegiate years and deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Congratulations, Monarchs! I send you my best wishes and hope that you will stay in touch with your classmates, friends and faculty members as you embark on a new adventure.

It has been a momentous year for all of us, with so many highlights and reasons for celebration. We launched a bold vision for the future of the university that will ensure Methodist continues to thrive as an amazing place to learn, grow, work and live.

It is an especially exciting time to be at Methodist as the Methodist University Journey is unfolding. The MU Journey is about embracing experiences outside of the classroom that prepare students for a productive career, graduate school and a life of meaning and purpose. The recent announcement of new centers for Global Education, Leadership, Community Engagement and Undergraduate Research and Creativity will ensure that every Methodist University student has an opportunity to participate in these experiences, while other initiatives like the Center for Student Success will enhance the overall Monarch education. In addition, the new School of Health Sciences promises to bring even more programs to the university that will not only meet an increasing interest on the part of students in healthcare professions, but will also meet the needs of our community. And a new Master of Education Program that will be launched in June will meet a need for a graduate program for teachers.

The recently unveiled master plan for the university will mean physical improvements to complement the programs. The new state-of-the-art building for the Professional Nursing Studies Program will open this summer, and the new sophomore residence hall located on Sink Field will be ready for occupancy this fall. In total, the board of trustees has approved a 20-year plan for expansion to meet short- and long-term goals for Methodist, and dramatic improvements are scheduled to begin over the next five years, including renovations to the library, enhancements along Ramsey Street, Lowdermilk Drive and Stout View Drive, expansion of the Berns Student Center and an addition to Reeves Auditorium, to name a few.

These new programs and campus-expansion projects would not be possible without the past and continued work of many signature people who have given and continue to give of themselves to improve our university. I was particularly pleased and honored when Harvey T. Wright II and Mary Fermanides Wright, both graduates of Methodist University, allowed me to announce at my inauguration their $5 million commitment for student scholarships. Their commitment for the Harvey and Mary Fermanides Wright Scholarship represents the largest single gift made in the history of Methodist and will fund the highest merit scholarship offered by the university, thus allowing us to recruit the very best students to Methodist. The occasion of announcing this transformational gift provided a truly inspirational moment in the life of this institution.

We are so grateful to Harvey and Mary Wright for their generosity and support of the vision for Methodist University. These two “signature people” have inspired us to do all we can to make Methodist the very best university it can be. Harvey and Mary’s legacy will live on through the journeys05-02-12-every-monarch.jpg of the students who receive their scholarships, thus lighting their pathway through a Methodist education.

It is true that every Monarch has a journey. I wish our graduates the very best as they begin the next phase of their journey, and know they will join us in the years to come as active alumni and community members who will continue the tradition of giving back to Methodist. Indeed, the best is yet to be.

Ben E. Hancock Jr.


Methodist University

Photo: Harvey T. Wright II, Chair of the Methodist University Board of Trustees, and his wife, Mary Fermanides Wright, donated $5 million to Methodist scholarships. Wright is pictured above with Dr. Hancock. 

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