"The Big Man on Campus"

By Annie Bierman. Published April 25, 2011.

This article, I decided to speak with the man who oversees it all, the one, the only, Dr. Jim Dennis.

Dr. Dennis is, if you didn’t know, the president of McKendree University. He is responsible for everything that goes on in or affiliated with the university and works for the Board of Trustees to carry out their policies.

This is his 17th year here, which means he has been President of McKendree for 17 years now. He completed his undergraduate degree at Occidental College in California and then earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California College where he worked from a teaching assistant to Vice President.

Dennis has actually always been surrounded by the college environment. His father served as a faculty member at Occidental College (his undergrad institution) and he lived about the same distance to that university as he does at McKendree in Stevenson House, home of the President. 

What drew him from sunny California to Illinois, however, were the people. He was impressed by the Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni he met when he visited campus. He said they all had a similar goal: “high expectations for McKendree.” He continues at McKendree “for the same thing that drew me here:” the people. He also said he enjoyed the challenge of seeing “how far we can go together” in terms of progress and development at McKendree.

A piece of advice he would give to students is to “take full advantage of the opportunities that surround you in the McKendree environment.”

He also wanted students to know that his “hope is that students, when they are out living their lives, will remember those who funded them and give back. This is the McKendree legacy and how we succeed.”

About this concluding academic school year, he commented that this year we had an unusually long winter, but has been “a tremendous success,” as he went on to note the student groups like the Debate Team and athletic teams like the recent Women’s Bowling NAIA title.

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