What Makes McKendree Great?

By: Kenneth Glidden, Head Culture Writer

Photos taken by Sadie Miyler, Photographer and Designer

Last week I touched on some things the student and faculty body believed were missing from our beloved McKendree University. Those students and professors I interviewed were able to come up with some amazingly creative ideas for facilities, services and classes they would love to see. After asking them what was missing, I asked them what makes McKendree great and this is what they had to say.

Freshman swimmer, Caitlyn, mentioned the free parking. Free parking is something not seen at very many universities, but it is more than a blessing here at McKendree. Instead of having to pay for a pass that can only allow you to park in some areas, all you have to do is visit Public Safety, get your car a sticker in exchange for its vehicle information and you’re set. Alireza, another freshman, said this, “I really like Ames dining hall, it’s a good place to eat and hang out.”

Ames has always been one of the top spots at McKendree to hang out and eat with your friends. With a friendly staff, various food options and a good atmosphere, it is a staple in McKendree’s range of food services.

In my interview with seniors Claire and Kat, they spoke about McKendree’s ability to source staff and faculty. Claire said, “They have really great staff, like they do a really good job scouting their staff members and making sure they really fit the McKendree culture…everyone’s got the McKendree Factor.” The McKendree Factor is the umbrella term for the many qualities that most all faculty and staff here possess. These qualities include the willingness and want to help all students to grow and learn as much as possible through their respective fields.

Whether it’s the friendly staff of the business office, financial aid, etc. who ensure every student is financially prepared for their further education or the professors who want every student in their class to gain knowledge of and an appreciation for their respective subject, McKendree faculty and staff are equipped with friendliness, knowledge and a sense of community within the university.

The professors I interviewed have the McKendree Factor, and when I asked them what they believed McKendree gets right or what is great about McK, they were teeming with responses. Dr. Alewine (before even being asked the question) mentioned this “…the Clear Path Initiative, which is an initiative that lets students [that come from one of 34 counties around the McKendree area] know they will not have to pay over $15,000 per year. I love it because it is up front with parents and their kids.” This initiative is not the only thing Alewine mentioned that he believes McKendree is doing right. 

He continued, “We have, in the last year or so, signed a lot of agreements between McKendree majors and community colleges. What this tells the students at the community colleges is that if they get their associates degree there, we will count that as taking all of their gen-eds at McKendree….because there is a plan associated with each agreement, it plans how the student is gonna finish in two years once they come to McKendree.” This may not seem like something amazing for the current student body at McKendree, but it is something amazing for the future of McKendree. With this program, there can be an influx of students that come for two years for major-specific courses (leaving more space for you to take that gen-ed you’ve been wanting to take). 

This brings revenue to the university and has the potential for those students to stay even longer than two years. If they happen to play a sport, they could stay another two years to finish their time of eligibility and get their masters here at McKendree. Mind you, Dr. Alewine mentioned these before I asked him what makes McKendree great. When I did ask him, he said this, “For once I’m quiet because my mind is so filled with things to say. I really value the interpersonal relationships between students and, not only professors, but many students have those relationships with coaches or other staff members…that is something that is a part of McKendree’s culture. I wouldn’t say ‘Oh well that’s just because McKendree is a small school,’ because I know there are small schools that are not as warm as McKendree.” 

This alludes back to that McKendree Factor, as Claire put it, another quality of someone with this factor is accepting feedback in order to grow and create a program built for the students. Alewine continued, “Another thing that I think we do great at McKendree is that the faculty listen to students, for the most part, as to what they want major-wise. And they listen to what students want course-wise within a program.” He gave the Financial and Actuarial Science track as an example. He said that years ago students reached out and asked questions like “What course do we need to take if we want to be an actuary?” and so the school created that track for those students and future students to utilize. 

Dr. Trask, when asked this question, also praised the student body, the school culture and she touched on the Clear Path Initiative as well. This is what she had to say, “I love McKendree, I am an alum…I’ve always loved the people. I think we’re quite a bit of a different institution than when I went to McKendree, but the people always seemed to remain the same. Not literally, but the types of people. I love the students we recruit, I think many of our students are excellent. I appreciate the Clear Path Initiative that admissions is trying to do to rope in our more local students….We’ve done such a great job recruiting our athletes from all over the world, and we’ve lost some in our own backyard. So I love that we’re doing that [the CPI].” She broke that down to saying she loves McKendree’s recruiting in general. 

She also helped add to the definition of the McKendree factor within our faculty with this, “Many of our faculty understand the importance of a small private liberal arts institution and what that means in developing relationships and lifelong learning…I think we end up hiring the right faculty members.” She went on to finish the interview with praises of one of the newer buildings here at McKendree and that is the Hett (Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts). Trask stated, “I think we do the Hett right! What we provided our students and faculty to attend, I think, is top notch!” 

There were plenty of great things said and to be said about our beloved McKendree, but the thing that was touched on by everyone interviewed was the campus culture and the sense of family once you become a Bearcat. From the incoming freshmen who see their friends or teammates as their second family, to the seniors who have established bonds with classmates and professors alike. From the classroom to the staff offices to the dining hall, every Bearcat is welcome with open arms and warm smiles. What makes McKendree great isn’t the tangible facilities or an expansive campus, but more so the people within it.

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