President's Message

Dr. DennisDear Friends,

The summer months have passed us by and once again we look forward to the beginning of a new academic year with all of the promise this annual occurrence means to our community. The content of this issue of The Magazine for McKendree focuses on a topic which, for me, brings mixed emotion - the 20 years spanning my Presidency at McKendree. I am certain many of you are now imagining what those emotions might be. Certainly when you do a piece that reflects on a period of time you can imagine feelings of accomplishment, happiness, nostalgia, pride and wonder at all that has been accomplished. It is important to note these should be shared feelings as no President makes progress on his or her own, rather it is the collective work of the community that push an institution forward.

However, these types of reflections can also be associated with a sense of continuing need and urgency around promise and goals yet to be fulfilled. Those of you who know me well understand most of my energy is spent contemplating the latter.

Being a 20-year plus President is filled with dangers to be sure. Are we too quick to focus on our accomplishments and set aside the harder work of remaining a vital and vibrant institution of higher learning? Have our aspirations for the future been exhausted? Have we become complacent?

Some might suggest the most difficult years of a Presidency are the first few. There are endless events and meetings. Lots of new people to meet and ideas for growth and change to be explored. It was admittedly a long time ago, but I remember the excitement of those first years well.

As I reflect however, I actually think the most difficult years of a Presidency might in fact be the later years. Make no mistake, I am immensely proud of the progress we have made together over the past 20 years, but I write to you today hoping as we look back that we don’t spend too much time reveling in all that has been, or we will miss the opportunities still ahead of us.

When I first arrived at McKendree I was often heard saying these words,
“McKendree’s best days are ahead of her.” I still believe this to be true and come to work each day excited about making that promise into a reality.

I hope you enjoy the look back. Thanks for all of your support along the way! It’s a great day to be a Bearcat!


James M. Dennis