If you were wondering when Nido Qubein might step down as president of High Point University, now you know: not anytime soon.
When announcing an audacious (what else would you expect) a plan for the next 10 years at the university, school officials made clear last week that Qubein will be around to see it through.
Qubein, a businessman, author and motivational speaker who became the unlikely president of the private university in 2005, has had his contract extended through 2029. That means he will be 81 years old when he steps down. Unless, of course, he re-ups again after that.
That’s meant as a joke, but with Nido, well, you never know. He is irrepressible. He operates at only one speed: very fast. And he always seems to be working on the Next Big Thing.
Among the highlights of HPU’s vision for the decade to come:
A $700 million endowment for scholarships.
A more racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse student body.
A major in hospitality management (HPU will open a new 30-room hotel on campus in 2020), among at least five other new academic programs.
A hockey arena for a new Division I hockey team.
A new library, admissions center and dining facilities, as well as an assortment of new academic, athletics and residential buildings.
All told, the university plans to invest $1 billion in scholarships and construction.
The plan also recognizes HPU’s rising profile as an economic engine for all of High Point. So, the university will convene a committee of city and university leaders to address broader issues in the community.
That stands to reason. On Qubein’s watch, the university has become much more involved in civic affairs. And it was Qubein who successfully led the fundraising to finance a downtown ballpark that is hoped to be a magnet for more development and activity in the center city.
“High Point University has invested more than $2 billion on this campus since I arrived here in ’05,” Qubein said during a festive rollout of the school’s 10-year plan. “It’s an enormous investment, and we want to protect it. We also want to be in a dynamic city.”
Of course, as boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
But in Qubein’s case, he’s been doing the punching. He is that rare combination of a talker and a doer. A showman with substance.
Practically from Day One, he jolted the sleepy campus with his energy — and his extraordinary gift for raising money. Enrollment has more than tripled. There were 18 buildings on 91 acres when Qubein arrived. Now there are 128 buildings on 500 acres. The university’s annual impact on the regional economy is $800 million.
As for Qubein serving as president until he’s past 80, we’ll see. If anyone can, it’s him. But whether its rock star president retires sooner or later, HPU will need to prepare for it. For now, Qubein and the university are one brand, indivisible. But even if it’s 10 years from now, his tenure inevitably will end, and HPU will go on.
If the university is to continue to thrive beyond the Qubein era, it will need a plan for that, too.