Excerpt From: Making the Grade
How Nido Qubein turned a little-known liberal arts college into one of the nation’s top-ranked private schools.
By Karen Stevens of Success Magazine
Nido Qubein paces back and forth in front of the windows of his stately office, looking down at the handful of golf carts packed with people below. His pained look belies his usual cheery, charismatic demeanor. The 64-year-old president of High Point University, a small private liberal arts college 90 minutes north of Charlotte, N.C., is upset that open house is occurring and—because of the sheer number of requests—the school can’t accommodate all of the parents and students who want to tour his beautiful campus. It’s the same as turning away customers, says the man who sits on the board of big-name companies such as La-Z-Boy and BB&T, “and I hate doing that!”
The intense interest in HPU results from the transformation that’s taken place since Qubein (pronounced coo-BANE) became president of the university in 2005. Since then, the once-quiet Methodist college in the middle of High Point, N.C., a furniture industry-focused town, has become a gleaming, bustling institution of higher education that has to turn students away. “Some private universities today are struggling, but we’re thriving,” Qubein says. And people are taking notice. The school’s about-face happened a lot sooner than anyone, including the president himself, had planned or expected. “Things started happening almost immediately when Dr. Qubein got here,” says Chris Dudley, High Point’s vice president and chief of staff. “He is a visionary leader, and his level of passion for this work is unparalleled.” As a result, since 2005 HPU enrollment has swelled from 1,624 traditional undergraduates to 3,673