College Time

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As I write today’s blog I feel like a two tennis players that have played an epic 5 sets…the Isner / Mahut match finally ended when Isner hit a backhand up the line to win the last of the match’s 980 points by the way! In doing so the longest match, by some distance, ended as Isner defeated Mahut in the fifth set by an amazing 70 games to 68!

This first round marathon took 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days and lasted so long that play had to be suspended two nights in a row due to darkness. Play resumed yesterday at 59 games all and and took just over an hour to finish as the players battled out a further 20 games.

So here are the records that the match set:

Longest match, 11 hours, 5 minutes.

Longest set, 8 hours 11 minutes

Most games in a match, 183

Longest games in a set, 138

Most points in a match, 980

Most points in a set, 711

Most aces by both players, 215 (Isner 112, Mahut 103) and by one player, Isner

Most service games held by both players, 180 of 183

Most consecutive service games held by both players, 168 and by one player, 84 each.

And one final record…longest final set … 8 hours 11 minutes which was almost two hours longer than the previous longest match of 6 hours 33 minutes!

So why do I feel almost as tired as these two guys…simple…I’m doing College tours as my youngest daughter prepares for next year! Anyone who’s ever walked around campus after campus will tell you it’s exhausting and here in North Carolina where the heat is touching 95 degrees, it’s no exception.

Of course, thousands of students and parents are making these trips this Summer and it seems this is one area of the economy that seems recession proof. Yesterday I made three visit to colleges in the North Carolina area and it was an interesting study in how the college business attracts its customers.

An early morning flight from Orlando saw us touch down in Greensborough at around 8.30am and from there we drove straight to Elon. Elon University is an historic 575 acre campus which has been designated a botanical garden and features oak trees, brick sidewalks, fountains and lakes. It’s a hugely impressive place of study not to mention steeped in history.

In 1889, the North Carolina legislature issued a charter for Elon College. William S. Long was the founder and the first president. The original student body consisted of 76 students. In 1923, a fire destroyed most of the campus, including school records, classrooms, the library and the chapel. The Board of Trustees voted to rebuild immediately. Many of the buildings that were erected in the years following the disastrous fire still stand today and make up the bedrock of Elon’s campus.

Many prominent figures have visited and spoken at Elon, including Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton along with  former U.S. Secretaries of State General Colin L. Powell and Madeleine Albright.  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak,  Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and astronaut John Glenn have also visited.

From there, we then went to the remarkable High Point University run by an even more remarkable man, Dr. Nido Qubein. Qubein came to the United States, with just $50 in his pocket, when he was just 18 years old and attended Mount Olive College and High Point University. At the time he spoke very little English and learned the language by writing down 50 words a day on a card and by memorizing those words.  Nido then went onto start a bank in 1986 and now serves on the board and executive committee of a Fortune 500 financial corporation with $135 billion in assets and 35,000 employees. He is chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company with 218 stores in 42 states and serves on the board of BB&T and La-Z-Boy Corporation, one of the world’s most recognized furniture brands. He is also a superb speaker and if you ever get the chance to hear him, you should grasp it with both hands.

Nido Qubein & Nigel Worrall

The transformation at High Point since Qubein became its President has been amazing. From a respected but rather sleepy University town, High Point is now much talked about all over America. Since taking over as President in 2005, Qubein has largely been responsible for raising over $350 million that has been invested in the campus and facilities.

Several new residential and educational buildings have been added and these additions include the notable Norton Hall, the Blessing Residential Hall, The Village Residential Complex, the Slane Student Life and Wellness Center, and the Jerry and Kitty Steele Sports Center. A large number of fountains have also been installed throughout the university commons with plans to add even more. In 2009 several new buildings opened that included the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, the Plato S. Wilson Family School of Commerce, and the crown jewel of student life, the $50 million University Center (formerly called the Multiplex). The University Center houses 600 students in 300 upscale apartment-like facilities, a virtual bowling alley, fully-functional movie theater, a steakhouse, a sandwich shop, and a two story gaming-and-restaurant concept. It’s simply amazing!

With the campus renovations at High Point University breaching $300 million in August 2009, President Nido Qubein wasn’t finished there. He then announced several other additions to the campus and these include a new dormitory parallel to the University Center, and a Greek Village. The Greek Village will consist of roughly 14 houses aimed at housing 200 total students. The $10 million Greek Village is scheduled for a fall 2011 completion.

Overall, it’s an amazing place and the student experience is pretty much unparalleled. More later…

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