A lot has changed since Dr. M. Elton Hendricks took the helm of
Methodist College (now Methodist University) as its president in 1983.
Enrollment has gone from 771 students to more than 2,000. They've
grown from 110 employees to 545, the operating budget used to be just over $3
million, now it is more that $48.5 million. There were 19 academic programs
27 years ago compared with more than 70 majors and concentrations today.
That is quite a difference from when Hendricks came on board.
"A lot of wonderful things have happened over the years," Hendricks
recalled. "When I fi rst came to Methodist people would ask me ‘Is the college
going to make it?' No one has asked me that in 20 years. We've positioned
As Hendricks prepares to leave campus this summer, his heart is with the
school and its leadership as they continue to position Methodist University and
its students for further success.
"I hope the school will continue to grow
fi nancially and in their service to the community,"
said Hendicks. "Given the tradition out of which
we've come, our intention is not just the training
of the the mind. We are concerned with the kind
of human beings that our students become ... it's
been a pleasure to be at Methodist and I've come
to cherish the friendships of the university and
personal friendships as well. Nothing has been
more meaningful to me than to be able to help
shape the minds of the future."
It is just that philosophy that has led to many of
the successes that the college has experienced lately.
Every decade the institution goes through
a two to three year accreditation process. The
school is scrutinized at every level from its
fi nances to its curriculum. There is the off-site
committee looking through all of the paperwork,
then the on-site committee reviews the off-site
committee's fi ndings and comes to the campus
and looks in every nook and cranny to make sure
that things are running well. Both committees
offer up suggsetions for improvement and, of
course, if there are any serious issues those are
dealt with, too. Methodist University recently
fi nished up this process.
After peeking into every corner, and
inspecting the minutae of how the university is
run, neither committee had any recommendations
for Methodist University. While that is not
unheard of, according to Director of University Relations Pam McEvoy, it is
not all that common either.
"No reccommendation; that meant we didn't have to fi x anything," said
McEvoy. "That was big. I think that speaks to the quality of what we are doing."
In addition to being inspected inside and out, the reaffi rmation also requires
a plan of action for the future called a Quality Enhancement Program (QEP).
"That is really hard," said McEvoy of the QEP. "You have to do it and test
it through the next 10 years (where it will be examined in the next accreditation
process). Our QEP is to develop a culture of reading on campus."
Granted, with things like the Internet, ipods and all the other distractions
- electronic and otherwise - there is a portion of the population that is not
drawn to reading books the way that past generations have been. People like
things that are fast and interactive.
Methodist University is out to change that. Its QEP slogan is "Get between
the covers: Develop a culture of reading." It is campus wide and faculty, staff and
students are all invited to participate. Thousands of books have been donated and
the administration has gone out of their way to make reading appealing.
"There are around 2,000 books that you can just take and read," said
McEvoy. "And we've developed nooks inside and outside on campus - places
that are cool to read. In addition, this year we have put in reading circles."
The reading circles are technically classes, but the students can pick their
genre. They end up reading about fi ve books through the course and the group
meets to have discussions.
"The plan is that when you come in as a freshman you get this test and
as a senior you get one and hopefully comprehension is better," said McEvoy.
"So we send you out into the world as a better reader and you hopefully will be
more profi cient at what you do."
While the outreach programs that Methodist University sponsors range
from their women's basketball team raising money to fi ght breast cancer,
to partnering with the March of Dimes to hold a fundraiser on campus to
the Social Welfare department adopting Pauline Jones Elementary School,
which is one of the poorest in the community, to high quality concerts and
performances, they haven't lost sight of academic commitment either.
With some help from the government, Methodist University has the only
disaster simulator in the nation. It is a virtual reality simulator where students
can get training in different disaster scenarios.
"One scenerio is that you are out in the country and there is a dairy farm
and these cows start falling over, there is another one
where there is a chemical spill and there is a hole in
the ground and what is cool is that you have to deal
with this disaster but you don't get hurt so you can do
it over and over until you get it right. We have another
grant coming up for methamphetamines - that is not
just for educators but is for law enforcement as well,"
A school that is strong on science, students at the
university are not only on the leading edge in higherlevel
education, their foundations are strong.
"Some of the degrees that we offer are very cutting
edge. Probably something that people don't know is
that our largest degree program is in biology," said
McEvoy. "That is really good because it is science
and that can lead to a lot of different job possibilites.
We have such a sound science department - that
is probably why we have the best PA (Physician's
Assistant)program in the state. We just got certifi ed to
expand that. We are going from 34 people that we can
get in a group to 50 people."
There are two new buildings going up on campus
to support the quick growth, an anatomy lab and a
teaching center. McEvoy credits a partnership with the
Veteran's Administration Medical Center as the reason
the students can get such outstanding experience and
support in their clinicals, which in turn leads to more
well rounded and better PAs at the end of the program.
In the next year or so there are hopes of adding
another medical program to the curriculum.
"We've always had pre-dental and pre-med
programs," McEvoy noted. "We are going to meet with the nursing board and
they are going to decide if we can have a nursing program. We think we can
do a good job because of our PA program which is basically science and they
(nursing students) will be in a science environment."
If all goes well, the program will start in August.
The Professional Golf Management program at Methodist University is
known nationwide. Not a surprise since it is the largest in the nation and is
PGA endorsed. With two teaching labs, (golf courses) the program teaches
every aspect of golf management from turf, to pro shop management and golf
lessons. Students of this program are routinely placed in internships at courses
like Pebble Beach and other top-of-the-line golf communities.
McEvoy expects that the new art building, which will open in February,
includes an art gallery, will be a boon for the community. It will support the
graphic design degree that was started two or three years ago.
A small school that offers lots of opportunity and a chance for success,
there is growth and momentum in most every area of the campus according,
to McEvoy. SAT scores of new freshmen are up and enrollment is up in every
category. The leadership at Methodist University has created
a world-class institution that is ready to send the next
generation of leaders into the world not only educated, but
also engaged, enriched and