With only a high school education from Middletown High School (in a once vibrant steel-producing town in Southwest Ohio), my father's goal for me while I attended H.G. Hill Elementary School here in Nashville was an MBA education.
He perceived it as the foundational beginning of education and opportunities for me that he never enjoyed. I entered the seventh grade in 1963. Other than those “later in life events” — such as marriage, children, marriage of children, and all the special moments with family in between — I can affirm that the most wonderful, most memorable, and most formable times in my life were those that took place in the six years I attended MBA. The inspiration and experience MBA provided me is why I give my time and my resources to our school — the concept of you should “give back to an institution what it gave to you” only scratches the surface of why I make the Big Red my priority alongside my Church.
In reflection, there were three distinct influences that moved me to cherish my days on The Hill. First, growing up as an only, I was hoping for brothers in the form of classmates when I first sat down in 7B (Mrs. Bowen's class). I am certain that this was a subliminal desire. Regardless, for the past 43 years my best friends are those classmates from the classes of 1968 through 1970. Other than family and faith, friends are the most important parts of my life.
Secondly, I was influenced by teachers, administrators, and coaches who all served as mentors at the time and as inspiration thereafter. While I was devastated and humbled by Mrs. Bowen’s plethora of red marks on my Robinson Crusoe theme, she was the first of several “shapers” in my life — Mr. Carter, Mrs. Lowry, and Coach Owen were other larger than life figures that I am comfortable in saying only the MBA environment could provide.
And lastly, I embraced and aspired to the “Gentleman, Scholar, Athlete” concept and continue to affirm its unique creed — it has stood the test of time in terms of honoring traditional values while adjusting to the global world of opportunities.
When Jean Ann and I were blessed with two sons (and a daughter), I was hopeful (in that same manner as my Dad) that my boys would choose MBA. They both spent six special years taking advantage of courses, music venues, and sports that had not even been considered when I was a student. When I asked each of them why he would give back to MBA, one said “It’s a great institution that turns adolescents into mature young men” while the other said “Personally, my experience was defined by friendships that are second only to my marriage — my one thought when someone mentions MBA is excellence in the education of young men.”
Over the past year and a half, a small group of us from the classes of ’69, ’70, and ’72 have met at Jersey Mike’s for lunch to “solve our country’s problems.” Invariably, we digress to our days on Harding Road —the dreaded freshman class speech, the concept of “fate” in Thomas Hardy novels, the passion that Mrs. Lentz and Mrs. Sims had for Latin, idiosyncrasies of old classmates, the cars we drove, and the ability of only two coaches — Owen and Bennett — to serve as head coach for football, basketball, baseball, and track!
While I may forget what I did last week, memories on The Hill will stay with me forever.
For me, perpetuating this “MBA experience” — that intangible upon which each of us, as alumni, define and remember our days there — is reason alone to give so that future young men can have the advantage of their own experience. That you may have sons, grandsons, or sons-in-law only heightens that joy of giving.
So I would ask you to reflect on those six years — or however many you walked across the campus — to reminisce, to be mindful, to soak in the memories — and if you haven't considered making MBA a priority in your gifting, consider your experience and help others realize theirs.