2 min read May 2022 – High Point University is a private university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. In an interview with Invest:, President Nido Qubein discussed recent milestones for the university, challenges in higher education and what makes Charlotte a great place to do business. “I have a lot of respect for this city because it has truly evolved and transformed from a social and economic perspective, making it a strong force,” he said.
What are some of the recent milestones for High Point University?
I’ve been blessed to serve as president for 17 years now, and we’ve invested close to $3 billion and built and renovated 108 buildings, growing the campus from 90 acres to 520 acres. Revenue grew from $28 million to $400 million. Our enrollment has increased since 2005 from 1,400 to 6,000, and we expect that to grow to 7,000 in a couple of years. We are proud to have students from every state and from other countries. Best of all, student academic outcomes have been extraordinary. 98% of HPU graduates launch their careers or begin graduate school within 180 days of graduating.
We recently announced that we will invest $400 million over the next three years to start four additional schools in law, nursing, entrepreneurship and optometry. We are also building and have hired a dean for North Carolina’s first and only private dental school. We are an inclusive, educational institution that welcomes people from every background and religion, but we are proud to be a God, Family, and Country School. We are also the premier life skills university.
What advice would you give to other higher education institutions that are trying to grow and prosper like High Point?
In business, I teach a very simple formula: one must have a clear vision. What do you want to do? Who is going to do it? What is your vision? Then, one must have a solid strategy by asking questions such as, where are we, where are we going, and how are we getting there? Lastly, a leader must employ practical systems and commit to consistent execution. It is easy to give in at the first sign of failure or criticism, but as long as you are doing it right, the results will follow.
What are some of the challenges the education industry is facing?
There are always challenges in a growing institution, such as building meaningful relationships with all constituencies retaining the right talent. Focus is more important than intelligence. So we must choose what we are going to focus on in order to succeed. Some people in academia are talking about how demographics are going down; according to experts, by 2025 there will be fewer high school graduates. At HPU, we only need to attract 1,500 of them each year. So yes, demographics may change, but the important thing is to position ourselves in a place to attract those students for whom HPU is the best fit.
There are bigger challenges in higher education, such as affordability. Colleges are getting more and more expensive because they need to provide smaller classrooms, more services and better responsiveness to the students’ needs. We constantly ask ourselves how we can make it affordable and support every student. We are proud of being a diverse community, with 22% of our students from diverse backgrounds. We granted $77 million in scholarships this year, and that figure will continue to increase.
We want to attract more international students so our students can have awareness about other cultures from other countries and be prepared to enter the global market. We want students to be educated, not just trained in a discipline, and that means that they must have a vast understanding of the world and the people in it.
What makes Charlotte a great area to do business?
Charlotte is a fascinating place because it enjoys a phenomenal airport, which made it very attractive to corporations. It is also seeing massive population growth. The city is benefiting from the influx of residents and is experiencing a boom in the real estate market and development. I have a lot of respect for Charlotte leaders who evolved and transformed the city in an extraordinary way.
As it relates to High Point, we are in an interesting location between two powerful economic areas. We have great neighbors in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and I’m a co-chairman of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, an organization that promotes business in the region. We have attracted Toyota Battery, BOOM Supersonic airplanes, and many more. We are doing well; we have recreated ourselves since our textile success days. What is good for Charlotte is good for High Point, and the other way around. We all live in a mobile society. If we bring these companies here, more will follow, and they provide indirect contributions to the region, including expanding the Carolina Core.
I’m very proud that we are in a dynamic state that has lowered taxes, making living in North Carolina more attractive to companies and families. We are competing with other successful states on merit, and we are fortunate to have great leadership to build a better tomorrow for NC citizens.
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