During a recent campus-wide convocation, I talked about the importance of partnerships to the community and to Methodist University. These partnerships help the university deliver on the promise made to each Methodist student that he or she will have an exceptional educational experience.
Partnerships are another way to say “relationships,” and we are very fortunate to have so many caring people, representing scores of businesses and organizations, who are invested in the university and want to see our students succeed. In fact, many have joined various advisory boards so that they can maximize their effectiveness as partners.
As we strive to implement a variety of initiatives that will move Methodist University forward, I have announced a goal of creating and celebrating 100 partnerships with the greater community. Throughout the year, we will be highlighting the many benefits from these partnerships and featuring their contributions to the university. They will certainly play a pivotal role in meeting our strategic priorities — priorities that will benefit our students and prepare them for success during their time at Methodist and beyond. The partnerships will also contribute to the success of our community and make it an even better place to learn, work, live and play.
I would like to share just two examples of these partnerships to illustrate the benefits they will bring to the University and the community. We recently announced a partnership with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce at the September Chairman’s Coffee Club event. Through the MU Center for Community Engagement and Reeves School of Business, a team of students led by a faculty mentor, Mark Kendrick, will assist with a re-branding campaign and marketing efforts for the chamber. According to Vinnie Venturella, a member of the chamber’s board of directors and the event’s host, this arrangement will “strengthen and engage our chamber, as well as the business community.”
Methodist University will also partner with the United Way of Cumberland County by developing pilot projects that can be utilized in various community campaigns. A team of MU students will design a campaign at Methodist University and create a United Way Day and United Way Fair that will bring representatives of United Way agencies and MU employees together, thus increasing their awareness of the benefits received through their contributions. We also hope to develop a student organization that can be a model for other student groups. In the end, the student group, mentored by Director of Public Affairs, Pam McEvoy, will develop a comprehensive campaign that will enable them to create similar campaigns in other settings.
Our goal is to give every Methodist student an opportunity to be involved in a community project in virtually every corner of Cumberland County. By developing their problem-solving skills and serving as a part of a team, students will be more competitive in the employment market and in gaining entrance in the best graduate schools. They will also learn how important it is to be involved in their home communities and enhance the quality of life. Students who are involved in the community will continue to be involved as adults. Indeed, our democratic society is built on the tradition of engaged citizens, so we think it is imperative to engage young people while still at Methodist.
The philosophy of university-community partnerships is central to Methodist University. The institution owes its very founding more than 50 years ago to community leaders who believed in this principle and saw the promise of educating our students and having them return to the community as engaged citizens and leaders. So much has been accomplished in the five decades since then, and generations of leaders have emerged and contributed to the betterment of our community.