Cameron Fisher, December’s program chairman, introduced Conn to the assembled Rotarians. He described Conn’s 26 years of leadership as having reached cult status. To support his statement, Fisher produced various Paul Conn paraphernalia: a cookie, bobblehead, and T-shirt all in his likeness.
“He has built an average of at least one building a year at Lee University for 26 years,” Fisher said.
Lee University’s population and campus have been in a state of growth for about a quarter of a century, Conn said. Recent reports reveal the campus’ population is currently resting at little over 4,000 students. The University’s population almost caps out at 5,000 with 4,954 and counting. Approximately 661 of the 4,954 enrolled students are a part of the Division of Adult Learning. These students are predominately involved in online courses.
Conn said school officials believe the institution is at the right size and do not anticipate much campus population growth.
“We wondered for years what the right size for Lee was. We know we can continue to get bigger. The question is not what is the maximum size, but what is the optimal size which best executes our college’s vision?” Conn said. “We believe 4,000 to 5,000 students is the best campus population.”
A total of 49 states are represented by Lee’s student population. There always seems to be one state missing, Conn said. This year there is no representative from Nebraska.
Foreign students hail from 57 different countries. The foreign country that has sent the most students to the Lee Campus this year is Nigeria, with 56. Conn attributed the large foreign student population to the Internet. He said these students turn to the Web for help in their choice of higher education.
“We have outstanding Nigerian students. They are hard-working, excellent students who couldn’t get more exemplary,” Conn said.
Five things Rotarians may not know about Lee University were presented by Conn.
- “We are in the health care business,” Conn said.
University statistics showed more than 10,000 student visits for the 2011-12 school year. Registered nurses and a physician treat Lee students on a daily basis.
Services offered include: allergy shots, health and wellness information, immunizations, in-house labs, physical exams and sick visits.
- “We are in the food business,” Conn said.
Some 15,000 meals are served each week on Lee’s campus. Students have a choice between the school’s cafeteria and a number of fast-food establishments. The campus currently runs a Subway, Chick-fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Jazzman’s Cafe.
- “We are in the entertainment business,” Conn said.
Last year, sporting events, plays, and recitals all acted as entertainment venues for students and the community. Next year, Lee’s sport teams will be joining the NCAA Division II Gulf South conference.
- “We are in the travel agent business,” Conn said.
Students are encouraged to sign up for cross-cultural trips. Plans are made yearly to visit countries like England, Israel, Egypt, Chile, Mexico, Germany, and more. Students who joined in years past received course credits.
A total of 23 trips were conducted, last year.
- “We are in the business of serving our community,” Conn said.
Students completed 74,924 hours of service to the community, last year, Conn said.
“We believe Lee should make Cleveland and Bradley County a better place to live,” Conn said.