Raines Press Conference Text: "Destination Memphis"
you, Mr. Watkins, Board of Regents members, Board of Visitors
members, tireless search committee, faculty, staff, and students.
Bob and I walked up to the Northwest ticket counter in Lexington,
the agent said, "What is your destination today?" We looked
at each other and replied, "Memphis."
are excited about joining you to work together for The University
of Memphis, the citizens of Tennessee, and the Mid-South.
destination is Memphis, but our university's destination must
be a bridge - a bridge between the economic and the academic
worlds, which means, investing in people's livelihoods and
in their lives.
the announcement was made about my appointment as President
of The University of Memphis, hundreds of e-mails, cards,
and notes started coming into my office. All offered their
congratulations and many offered advice. Some of the advice
I will take and some of the advice I will toss.
some wise colleagues who know me well and who know the challenges
in higher education, I received this sage advice, which I
plan to follow:
the creative talent in the University and the city."
the University as a community."
in real dialogue while keeping an open mind."
accountability and integrity."
passionate about the University."
You know from my interviews that I am passionate about the
importance of higher education, so that advice is easy to
my closest friends, the usual advice came:
are good with people and good with data, so use both."
plan to take their advice because I believe with all my heart
that if we invest in great people, they will lead us to the
leader Jim Gray and Professor Ernest Yanarella included timely
advice. They reminded me that "we must prepare our graduates
to enter new economic and cultural realities." As a public
comprehensive university and the flagship of the Board of
Regents system, we must be certain that our graduates are
prepared for the globalization of our world and the learning
that is necessary to function in a trans-disciplinary environment.
We must form community partnerships, where we are the "experts-on-tap."
We must be experts who can be tapped to work as partners,
who also recognize the expertise that already exists in the
community. True partnerships flourish when we are learners
together. We must be learners, knowing we have much to learn
from our partners, whether in public schools, public policy,
or private business. We must stand shoulder to shoulder to
tackle problems together, from closing the achievement and
learning gaps, to closing the community gaps. We must reach
out to our neighbors around the University, while finding
ways to connect to our global community. For some, the steps
from Orange Mound to the McWherter Library may feel as distant
as Memphis is from China.
want every employee of The University of Memphis, from the
groundskeeper to the research scientist, from the beginning
instructor to the professor winning teaching awards, from
the cafeteria worker to the campus planner, to take pride
in saying, "I work at The University of Memphis." I
hope they will feel great pride because they are respected
for the quality of their work. I hope they will feel our genuine
positive regard for them as individuals and as members of
teams of people who make the University work.
hope the students from small towns in Tennessee, Mississippi,
and Arkansas, and men and women from Memphis, Nashville, and
Atlanta, and international students from Malaysia, Ghana,
or Canada will take pride in their University of Memphis because
we are a place where there is genuine positive regard for
them as individuals and for them as learners. Whether 18 or
38, we want The University of Memphis to be their learning
hope the citizens will take pride in The University of Memphis
because we are "their university," paid for by their tax dollars,
their tuition, and their private endowments. I want them to
know that we will be good stewards of their investments in
us because we are invested in learning.
I also plan to take the advice of several of you who said,
"Wear blue, Memphis Tiger Blue." What else could I wear? Our
destination is Memphis, The University of Memphis.
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