WAVE Magazine Fall 2018 JU_WaveMag_Fall18_2 - Page 17

A FUTURE SO THROUGH THE LENS OF PROGRESS: AN INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT TIM COST '81 The amount of progress created on the Jacksonville University campus over the past five years has accrued at a rate that should leave those watching breathless about future possibilities. Cultivating a private university in a vibrant city, located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and during one of the most explosive periods in history, is exactly the role Jacksonville University President Tim Cost envisioned from the beginning. And he doesn’t intend to back down from that. Instead, he fully expects the University community to lean in with an energy that matches his own. “What you’re seeing on this campus is ten years of progress happening in just five,” Cost says. “We’re a university that had never raised $25 million, but together reached five times that, in less time than expected. And we aren’t finished yet.” As the University celebrates the unprecedented success of its ASPIRE campaign, President Cost sat down with WAVE to talk about his first five years as President, and to take a look at what’s coming for Jacksonville University in the next decade. BRIGHT Q: With so many improvements and investments defining your tenure, how would you describe Jacksonville University today? A: This is what could be considered a turn-around start- up, and when you’ve got an 84-year old institution with so much promise, that’s a thrilling venture. We believe in innovation that leads to growth, not status quo. We don’t shoot down great ideas from talented leaders. We’re always asking, “Where will the world take these students next?” Then, we work to market-back. Q: As President, how do you approach decisions concerning the University’s trajectory? A: Our leadership regularly talks about how a 14-year-old today will prefer to live and study five years down the road, when that student is a sophomore on this campus. In my first weeks as president, we met with students, in small and large groups, and said, “Tell us about your lifestyle. How do you learn best? Where are you from? What do you want to do next?” And the more they shared, the more we identified key points for our decision making. Then we poured capital improvements into this campus. We started new majors, minors and degrees. We provided access to everything from drones to simulation labs. We embarked on a comprehensive strategy of partnerships, dozens of them. We decided that our University would be a partnership-driven, economically based, liberal arts informed and student-centric institution. Q: What’s your take on how to foster pre-enrollment affinity with prospective students? A: If you assess cohorts across this campus, there are several groups that do this well. These students step onto campus already connected, already feeling a part of our DNA. Let’s take student-athletes as an example. This group, like many others, exhibits those core qualities we most care about: thriving, serving, graduating, giving back and building meaningful, rewarding careers. Quick story. Several years ago in a Board of Trustees presentation, I shared some data—diversity, retention rates, graduation rates, GPAs and so on. Before I could identify the cohort, the Board emphatically said, “We want more just like them.” That cohort numbered roughly 500 students. They are your Jacksonville University NCAA Division I athletes. Like other natural cohorts—Greek organizations, Honors students, NROTC, Keigwin School of Nursing, international, etc.—they are standouts. Our student- athletes are excelling in the classroom and on the field. Artis Gilmore, Daniel Murphy, Russell Knox—these alumni are a part of our legacy of excellence. Regardless of the cohort, we continue recruiting the best and brightest. That JU brand of DNA is already present. Continued on next page. WAVEMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 17