President's Message

Photo of Dr. James DennisDear Friends,

As this issue of The Magazine for McKendree arrives, I hope 2014 is off to a great start for you and your family. The New Year is often a time when we look carefully at our relationships, careers and personal habits, and this new beginning often inspires us to take action and change.

If you have been to campus in recent years, you have likely noted the presence of “The Inspiration,” a statue (pictured below) which stands near the front of the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. It is inspired by “The Thinker,” French artist Auguste Rodin’s icon of intellect. “The Inspiration” is intended to portray a moment of sudden enlightenment. The artist, St. Louis sculptor Julianne Meder Sesti, described it this way: “My sculptures are almost always expressions of hope through strength and perseverance. We think, we dream, we learn, we teach and we inspire, so that we can have those moments of inspiration that can solve our problems, change our lives and improve the world. ‘The Inspiration’ depicts a timeless classic (figure), who upon the foundation of other great thinkers and teachers, has arrived at that moment when the solution is clear and the future is at hand.” It represents the kind of creative, original thought that takes place on our campus every day and that we hope will stay with our students as they graduate.

Photo of the Inspiration StatueAs you read the stories in this edition, I am confident you will see this ideal lived out in the lives of several remarkable individuals. I am personally inspired by the strength and faith of Emily and Joshua Hall, who are sharing the first year of their married lives living in remote Newtok, Alaska. I am, of course, particularly moved by this story because Emily worked in the President’s Office as a student.

Then there is the story of Alex McMahon, a current student and member of our football team who has been called on to show more courage and perseverance at a young age than many of us will have to exhibit in a lifetime. A true inspiration to all who know him.

Finally, you will also find a number of other stories about alumni, students and members of our community who have been inspired to excellence, service and commitment to the welfare of others. All of these individuals are living reminders of the strength of the human spirit, and the ideals embodied in “The Inspiration” and fulfilled through the gifts of education and community.

I hope 2014 will be a year filled with inspiration in your own life, and that the stories we have shared in these pages will cause you to look for ways in which you can solve problems, change lives and improve our world.


James M. Dennis