|Manchester is “market smart” with welcome help from new friends
It’s a childhood campfire refrain, pertinent yet today: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”
Imagine gathering 30 new friends who are successful movers and shakers in communities, industries, education, philanthropy, government. Imagine telling them Manchester College stories like those that appear in this issue of Manchester magazine … about what graduates have done with their Manchester education, what doors they opened and what doors were opened for them, about the College’s mission, its engaging faculty, its roots.
Imagine these influential new friends as bank presidents, a founder of a leading steel manufacturer, the founder of Vera Bradley Designs, corporate marketing executives, legislators, entrepreneurs, insurance executives, CEOs …
Such is the foundation for The President’s Leadership Council (PLC), a sounding board and advisory resource for President Jo Young Switzer and her cabinet.
It’s all about strategy: to learn best practices and fresh perspectives on how to be market smart, how best to use the College’s resources, how to underwrite the College’s mission and vision.
All of the Council members are masterful networkers who are rich with ideas and ready with introductions to foundations and philanthropists, to companies and organizations that might hire MC graduates, sponsor internships, extend connections.
“All the time they are on campus, they are connecting, networking,” says Switzer. They are engaging in Manchester College. “We discuss our challenges and seek their counsel as dynamic leaders and problem-solvers.” This fall, President’s Leadership Council members discussed college affordability and cost containment, for example.
Helping to prime earlier Council discussions, Wendy Robinson, superintendent of the 31,600-student Fort Wayne Community Schools, reflected on change. Other members chimed in on the opportunities and challenges of change, including Lawrence T. Rowland, retired president and CEO of Lincoln National Reinsurance Companies and chair of the Board of Parkview Health Systems.
“The PLC enables Manchester to take a pulse of sentiments of the outside world in relationship to higher education — in my case, from heavy manufacturing,” says Richard P. Teets, executive vice president for steelmaking and president and chief operating officer of steel operations for Steel Dynamics.
Teets and other members of the Council benefit, too, from their interaction with Switzer and the cabinet. He learns what is happening in higher education, he notes. “I’m sure that Manchester, although unique in ways, is also representative of the situations faced by like institutions.” Members also benefit from the networking, Teets adds. “I have learned plenty on the subject of employee management from sidebar discussions held before, during breaks and after our sessions.”
Cabinet members representing campus academic and student affairs, finances, enrollment and marketing “eavesdrop” on the conversations, ask questions and set the stage for more Manchester stories-telling to these new friends.
Chair of the President’s Leadership Council is Kyle Hupfer ’95, a member of the College Board of Trustees who knows his way around Indiana government. He served as director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and now is vice president and general counsel for Indianapolis natural gas marketer ProLiance Energy LLC.
He tells Council members of the accruing value of his Manchester College education. “I tell them how well-prepared I was for law school. I was easily accepted into law school (at Indiana University),” he says. “Manchester turned out to be a tremendous investment.”
Some President’s Leadership Council members will become so embedded in the mission of the College that they someday will bring their viewpoints to the Manchester College Board of Trustees.
Rowland will be the first “transfer,” as he joins the Board of Trustees in January with another extraordinary newcomer who is not a member of the Council and who has no previous ties to the College: John D. Zeglis, former CEO and chair of AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and former president of AT&T, who has retired to an Indiana lake home.
The 36-member Board of Trustees is deeply rooted in the College’s mission with alumni and Church of the Brethren members and representatives. Members of this group, which meets twice a year to discuss and make key decisions about the business of the College, also bring much diversity to the table.
They are attorneys, accountants, educators, physicians, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, pastors, bankers and philanthropists. Their backgrounds, politics, age, personalities and viewpoints reflect the diversity of Manchester College graduates.
“The Board of Trustees realizes we will make better decisions and will better serve the College if we have a variety of views on the Board,” says Switzer. “These newcomers can open doors and help bring in resources to the College. They will enable us to serve our students better.”
By Jeri Kornegay