Going to College: What is your responsibility? by Reid McCormick, Dean of Students

Posted on September 11th, 2014

Over the past few years I've become somewhat of an avid reader. I could spend hours (and sometimes I have) finding new and interesting books. There seems to be so many fascinating books out there yet so little time to read them all. My "to-read" pile of books grows exponentially every day. 

Last year I set a goal for myself: to read fifty books in one year. That"s a book a week plus a two-week vacation (which I"m usually reading on vacation). And I am proud to say I accomplished my goal. It definitely wasn"t easy especially getting the flu in December, but I pushed through. After I finished book number fifty, I still had a few minutes before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Now the style of books I read is all over the place. I love to Christian non-fiction. I treasure books about baseball " the greatest sport ever. I am also a nerd and love to read long, boring books about the world of higher education. But most recently, I have really become passionate about leadership development. 

Are leaders born or made? What does it take to be a leader? What is the difference between a good leader and a great leader? 

So over this past year I read a bunch of books from some leadership gurus. One book in particular that I found fascinating was written by Howard Schultz, the CEO and main man behind the meteoric rise of Starbucks. Schultz took his love for coffee and service and he created a cultural icon. Whether you love Starbucks or hate Starbucks, you know that Starbucks" little green logo and its coffee cups are as culturally significant as the golden arches of McDonald"s. 

The book Onward is a very interesting read that chronicles the re-focusing of Starbucks. Schultz, who didn't found the company but is responsible for building its brand, has a very simple mindset for his company. "We are not in the coffee business, serving people. We are in the people business, serving coffee." I love this quote. I loved it so much that I quickly scribbled it on a post-it note and put it on my desk. I soon found myself questioning everything I do. 

What is the real purpose? What is the main goal? What is my main responsibility? 

As Dean of Students, I have a lot of responsibilities. In fact, every student at HIU is my responsibility. But what is the nature of my business? What is the item that pushes me every day to do my job well? I thought for a bit and finally it came to me. 

We are not another university with students. We are in the people business, providing them transformational learning experiences.

That is our responsibility. Every class we teach, every student interaction, every form we ask you to fill out, every program we create is for one purpose: to serve the student. Our responsibility is to serve the student and provide them a transformational learning experience. As long as we keep this simple statement in mind we will always be right on track. 

So, why are you here today? Why are taking classes at Hope International University? Clearly you want an education, but is that the item that pushes you every day? College is not easy. It is not designed to be easy, long nights of studying and writing page after page. Going to college without a purpose is like driving blindfolded. 

What is it that pushes you? What business at HIU are you actually in? Are you here to become an expert in your field? Are you here to push your business to next level? Are you here to see your ministry grow? Are you here to see your opportunities expand? Are you here to learn or are you here just for grades or for a piece paper called a diploma? You are responsible for finding that one thing.

Looking back to my college days, my responsibility was to learn how to best serve Christ with my abilities. In graduate school, my responsibility was to learn how I can best serve a Christian college so I can create leaders for the kingdom of Christ. What"s your responsibility? Of course, we want to get good grades, get that diploma, and forever be a proud member of the HIU community, but most importantly we want to find the one thing. We want to find that one thing and never lose sight of it. 

You are here for a reason, maybe you are looking for that promotion, maybe you made a promise to a loved one, maybe you are simply excited to learn. Whatever the reason, write it down, put it up everywhere, get it engraved on your brain stem. So the simple, not-so-simple question: What are you here for?


Study Questions

1. Why did you originally enroll at Hope? What or who motivated you?

2. What is the hardest part about going to school? What is the one thing pushes you through the difficult times?

3. Have you shared your passion with someone else? Who can best support you in college?

4. What is the one thing I would do if money weren"t an option?



Onward by Howard Schultz

Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie

Make College Count by Derek Melleby