By: Matthew Hibdon
These were the opening remarks at the MTSU National Alumni Association’s board of directors meeting on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021.
My name is Matthew Hibdon, and MTSU changed my life.
I earned two degrees from MTSU and am a proud alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education. It is very humbling to be President of the Alumni Board and get to work with all of you. Since my term began, several people have asked me, “So what are your goals as President?”
My main goals are to: support the work of our Alumni Relations staff, continue the good work of the Board members who came before us, and to help prove that you do not have to live in Murfreesboro to be a champion for MTSU.
As a liberal arts graduate, my other personal goal is to remind you all that Words Matter.
Words matter in our conduct each day and how we represent our Alma Mater, both in-person and online.
Is anyone a Schoolhouse Rock fan? Do you remember Conjunction Junction? Even if you don’t, I hope that you remember the conjunctions: or, but, and, of course, and…
Even though conjunctions are small words, we need to be aware about how we use them when talking about MTSU.
First, we have the “ORs”
We use “OR” to contrast our experiences.
Did you go to MTSU or somewhere else?
Did you go Greek or not?
Did you go to Homecoming or did you stay home?
Is the Board representative, or not?
Then, we have the “Buts”
I really enjoyed that class with Dr. Sherman, but why did it have to be at 8 a.m.?
I love MTSU’s chocolate milk, BUT ever since they started bottling it, I’ve become acutely aware of just how many calories are in it…
I love MTSU, but _________.
Be careful what you say when you fill in the blank.
Finally, we have my favorite conjunction – “And”
“And” can connect us instead of dividing us. Most of all, “And” invites people into our stories.
Personally, I would say, “I majored in history, and I have an amazing job!”
Some of you, like Sydney Adams would say, “I went to MTSU, and I met the love of my life there.”
All of us should say, “I love MTSU, and I am serving it.”
Our Board should always be reflective of our Alumni and current students. This Board has alumni from every decade between the 1960s and now. We have the most geographically diverse Board and representation of our LGBT+ alumni. And we have members who hold degrees from all but one of our academic colleges.
We are the most representative Board in the Alumni Association’s history, AND we still have more work to do.
Look around the room. Who is not at the table with us? As we continue to strategically shape the future of the Alumni Association Board, we must continue to ask this question. There is more work to do, and we must do it.
Thanks to the leadership of Ginger Freeman, the Alumni staff, and our past Board members, we have the opportunity to make this Board reflect the entire Alumni population. These are important first steps, but it will be up to some of you in this room and on Zoom to ensure that this vision is carried out. Our Association’s Centennial is approaching in seven years. The work we do now will build a better, brighter, and more True Blue tomorrow.
We need serve the institution with gratitude. I hope that by the end of this year, I sound like a broken record. I want you to be tired of hearing “Thank you.” So, I’d like to end with some thanks for past efforts and thanks in advance.
Thank you for your commitment to support our alma mater financially, either now or next February during the True Blue Give. As alumni leaders, it is important that we participate in this initiative.
Thank you to the alumni who volunteered at the first True Blue Tour last week. Our local Board members turned out and welcomed their fellow alumni and prospective students back to campus. Thanks to Michael Hogan, Jennifer and David McKnight, Mary Kinney, and Kevin Gentry for joining us for the kickoff event. And thank you in advance to those of you who will join our True Blue family out on the road this fall.
We all have a story to tell about how MTSU changed our lives. I look forward to hearing each of yours AND working together to advance the mission of our alma mater.
– Matthew Hibdon (Matthew.Hibdon@mtsu.edu)