Nido Qubein preparing to become the next President
by Charlie Lehman
Intrepid immigrant, award-winning speaker, business leader, committed philanthropist and passionate alumnus, Nido Qubein is rigorously preparing to become High Point University's next president at the top of next year.
The anticipation on campus is palpable, the excitement electric as Qubein wraps up four months of realigning his many business responsibilities to assume leadership of this burgeoning university. He officially assumes the office on Jan. 3.
"Nido Qubein will bring a relentless energy to campus that will not only enhance the university's facilities and programs, but will also motivate students and faculty to set new standards in the classroom, on the field and in the community," says Andrea Griffith, editor of The Campus Chronicle, the student newspaper. "His presence will help High Point University emerge as an institution that is instantly connected to excellence around the nation and the world."
Support Runs Broad and Deep
Griffith's statement echoes the sentiments of many others. Support for the Qubein presidency runs broad and deep.
His move into Roberts Hall will come six months after the Board of Trustees decided, before reviewing applications from many highly qualified candidates across America, to step out of the box and vigorously recruit Qubein for the post. On July 14, they voted unanimously - with two big thumbs up - to offer the position to one of the university's most distinguished alumni… who had not even applied for the post. That vote echoed enthusiastic and universal support from the Search Committee appointed in May to nominate the next president.
Then, in an August meeting with the entire faculty and staff that Qubein deemed critically important in his decision, he received a rousing standing ovation followed by countless encouraging emails. Although Qubein did not seek the position, his love for High Point University stretches back over 35 years. He and his wife, Mariana, are graduates. He has brought 20 family members or family friends to the university as students. In addition to chairing the Academic Affairs Committee and serving on the Institutional Advancement Committee, he was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and named Alumnus of the Year.
'Thrilled with His Decision'
"Nido Qubein's decision is absolutely the best thing that could have happened to High Point University," says Richard Budd, Board of Trustees chairman. "This is a dream come true for all of us who set our sights on Nido early on in the selection process and never wavered. We had broad and unanimous support from every quarter. All of us knew in a profound and fundamental way that he was the right person to lead High Point University into an exciting future. Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are thrilled with his decision to accept this appointment."
During Qubein's professional career, driven by his extraordinary speaking and consulting acumen, he has spoken to thousands of audiences around the globe, written numerous books, and recorded scores of audio and video learning programs translated in a dozen languages. He is past president of the National Speakers Association, chairman of Great Harvest Bread Company, which has 210 stores in 39 states, and holds significant ownership of several other companies.
At 56, he has become a business leader, community icon, widely recognized philanthropist and legend among professional speakers and consultants.
Surprised by Offer
The University's offer in July surprised Qubein, leading to a month of prayerful consideration. Seeking the counsel of family, friends and University supporters, he received encouragement to accept the post in hundreds of letters and emails from throughout the Piedmont Triad and across the country.
"The response to the news that I was being recruited as High Point University's next president has been overwhelming," he says. "I am honored and humbled by the incredible outpouring of encouragement." While they encouraged him to accept the position, some asked why. Why would such an accomplished business professional at the peak of his career choose a new path in academia? His answer is as persuasive as it is profound.
"What matters most in my life is stewardship," he says, "and I feel deeply led to partner with students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and the broader community to nurture this university's growth. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to serve my alma mater and my home city. Together, we will build on the achievements of those who have gone before us. The stage is set. Now, it's up to all of us to play our parts with the kind of intelligence, enthusiasm, passion and vigorous hard work it will take to achieve extraordinary results."
People who know Qubein well say carve those words in stone: intelligence, enthusiasm, passion and vigorous hard work. They will become the hallmarks of Qubein's administration, they say. They will drive his High Point University legacy. They are fundamentally who he is and how he works. He accepts no less from himself and those around him.
Qubein came to America as a teen-ager with little knowledge of English, no contacts and only $50 in his pocket. After two years at Mount Olive College (a junior college at the time), he enrolled at High Point where he received his bachelor's degree in human relations in 1970. He has lived in this city ever since. He also holds a master's degree in business from the UNC-G Bryan School of Business and Economics and an honorary doctorate of laws degree.
He has received the highest awards in professional speaking, including the Cavett, and has been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame. He is founder and chairman emeritus of the National Speakers Association Foundation.
Qubein also received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, the award recognizes distinguished living Americans who have made significant contributions to our nation's heritage while achieving extraordinary results. Past recipients include Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Richard Nixon, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Jacqueline Onassis and Walter Cronkite, among other leaders in business.
He has been named High Point Citizen of the Year and High Point Philanthropist of the Year. He currently serves on the YMCA national board and as chair of the High Point Community Foundation. Early in his career with the help of some 250 High Point and national leaders, he established the Nido Qubein Associates Scholarship Fund, which has provided more than $3 million in scholarships and grants to hundreds of High Point area students, many who enroll at High Point University. He served as board chair of the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp. He also chaired several fundraising campaigns, including the United Way, Carl Chavis YMCA and Camp Cheerio.
What Does This Mean for HPU?
In an October interview with the Greensboro News & Record, Qubein explains how his success in business equips him well for the challenges he faces as High Point's next president. In his words, he will…
Anyone who knows Qubein well knows that High Point University, under his leadership, is on the verge of a seismic shift… that enormous change is imminent… and that this change will not only build a stronger university but will also create a more exciting brand among prospective students and donors.
Perhaps the High Point Enterprise, a long-time observer of the university and its next president, says it best in an editorial: High Point University "can enter the future with confidence and optimism" because Nido Qubein is "the right person, at the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons." Yes, sir, no doubt about it.
Hold on to your seats, alumni, and enjoy the thrill of your alma mater ride.
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