McPherson College will bestow an honorary doctorate on a leader who helped secure the financial future of the college in the 1980s.
MC will present the honor to Dr. James M. Dodson on May 17, when he visits McPherson College to deliver this year’s commencement address.
While teaching at Manchester College in Indiana, Dodsonmet Dr. Paul Hoffman, who was dean of students at Manchester at the time.WhenDr. Hoffman became President of McPherson College,hecalled Dodson to ask him to join the MC staff in the summer of 1979. Dodson accepted and became an integral part of the college’s team for the next 17 years.
During that time, he served in the financial department, worked as a fundraiser, and taught at least once per year in the business department. He also served as the chair of the business department for a year.
His efforts, along with those of Dr. Hoffman and other fundraisers at the time, helped to grow the college’s endowment from about $2 million when he started to about $22 million when he left MC.
During his tenure at McPherson College, Dodson served on the board of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. As a fund-raising consultant, he assisted numerous non-profit organizations in raising more than $500 million.
At the same time that Dodson was working for the college, his wife, Susan, also filled a number of important roles – including activities director, director of publicity, director of admissions and head of the art department.
Dodson said that receiving the doctorate was an honor that recognized those people he worked with as much as himself.
“Really, the honorary doctorate is a recognition of all those people who made me look good and gave me the time to do all those things that I wanted to do,” Dodson said. “It gives MC the opportunity to lift up individuals who share the mission and vision of the college.”
Upon resigning from the college, Dodson accepted a position as a fundraising consultant and maintained a relationship with McPherson over the years, offering advice and guidance through critical campaigns.
Dodson said he was always impressed with the foundational liberal arts values of McPherson College as well as its ability to adapt to changes in higher education, looking at developing entrepreneurship and career skills.
“My hope is the college will retain its strong liberal arts background,” Dodson said. “I believe that being prepared to know how to learn and having a liberal arts background is important for students who are going to change their jobs many times during the years, which is different from the past.”
Dodson will be the 51st recipient of an honorary doctorate from McPherson College since 1915 and the second recipient in the 21st century. The honor places him in the company of such individuals as James Z. Gilbert, MC’s first graduate and an expert on the La Brea Tar Pits; Harvey H. Nininger, former MC professor and meteorite expert; Nancy Kassebaum, former U.S. Senator from Kansas; and Harry Stine, founder of the largest independent seed company in the United States.
“It’s an august group,” Dodson said, “And I feel honored to be included in that group.”
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McPherson College, located in central Kansas, is a four-year private liberal arts college offering more than 20 bachelor’s and pre-professional programs, as well as an experiential master of education degree. Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to explore their ideas, to learn through doing and to make a difference in the world. McPherson College, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, is committed to the ideals of scholarship, participation, and service – developing whole persons, prepared for fulfilling life vocations.
Visitwww.mcpherson.edufor more information about McPherson College.