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A “Destination University”

When I was at Harley-Davidson we talked a lot about what made a good motorcycle dealer great.  It always came down to a term we coined to describe why one was more successful than the rest.  The dealership was a destination; a “destination dealership.”  That’s the kind of place you ride to because that’s where you want to go. It’s where you want to be.  Not just a stop along the way.  Destination dealerships are a hang out for riders.  Meet your buddies on Saturday morning for coffee and doughnuts.  Have a hot dog and soda at the HD cafe.  The store is Point A, F and T on a ride to Point Z.  All that fun stuff.

During the NC State Foundation Board Meeting today, one of our deans talked about the goals of his college.  “We need to become a destination college,” said CHASS Dean Jeff Braden.  What the dean was talking about is the importance of growing the humanities and social sciences at NC State to a point where students attend the university because they want to receive a degree from the college.  And where people pay attention to what’s going on at CHASS.  Yes, that does happen today, but it needs to happen a lot more often if we’re to grow this university and grow its reputation.


Marvin Malecha, Dean of the College of Design, added to the image in part because his college is already one of those destination colleges.  On par with Yale, Rhode Island, Pasadena and others, kids from across the country seek out the programs. They want to be here.  The dean went on to say that he believed Raleigh itself has become a destination and a somewhat unexpected one at that.  Returning from a trip a while back, Malecha followed a couple of Brits off the plane and heard them exclaim in the airport, “Didn’t expect this from Raleigh.”  Yeah baby!  We’ve become a destination.

Deans Braden and Malecha got me thinking…don’t we — NC State University — aspire to the exact same thing.  We want to be that Destination University for an increasing number of students.  We want to be their No. 1 choice.  We want to be the place kids want to be. We want to be that Harley store that everyone rides to, even when other options are nearby.  It’s not enough to have a handful of destination colleges is it?  We want to be the Destination University.

Now, I’ve only been on campus for 26 days, but in my eyes I think we may already be that Destination University in North Carolina.  We offer a wider variety of academic disciplines, have more students, more alumni, more faculty, and more staff than anyone else.  But we don’t always act like the Destination University we’ve become.  Looking over our shoulders at what’s happening around us.  Talking about how green the grass is on the other side of the hill.  That kind of thing.

Anyway, I found the meeting to be very thought provoking and I think I’ll come back to it from time to time.  The discussion at the Board Meeting is very much the discussion we need to be having on campus.  The discussion we need to be having in communications.

Now though, I need to go home and don by Harley-Davidson outfit for Halloween.  Might even stop by to see Ray Price.  He has one of the nicest destination dealerships around.  Might be fun.  And I bet I can find a free doughnut or two.  And probably, more than a few NC State graduates.

Passion Rules!

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