SBU marks Taylor’s 10th anniversary
BOLIVAR – C. Pat Taylor, president of Southwest Baptist University (SBU), stood in the sunshine by the Allen Walk of Life and reflected on a day, Oct. 20, which was designed to honor his 10-year “decade of distinction” at the university.
Taylor spent most of the morning holding hands with his wife, Judy, who has earned a reputation as beloved campus gardener and landscaper besides her academic and community service credentials. It was a day for the SBU president and first lady to count their many blessings. One of the many memories created for them by the SBU community was the dedication of two oak trees—one for the president and one for the first lady, complete with markers—in honor of their service.
“The most emotional time was when the students gave Judy a standing ovation,” Taylor said. “I shed a few tears then. It is emotional. I’m an emotional guy, and I’ve done real well so far today.”
Taylor appeared to choke up a bit later on during a private luncheon at the Jane & Ken Meyer Wellness Center. Proclamations were read from U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent, the state House of Representatives and Senate, the mayor of Bolivar, the Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bolivar Rotary Club and various other academic entities before the SBU president rose to speak.
Three days beyond having the SBU Board of Trustees approve a five-year contract extension, Taylor and his wife participated in a prayer walk with students, faculty, staff, deans, the executive cabinet and trustees that immediately preceded a formal chapel service with students.
Bob Agee, executive director of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, delivered the address at Mabee Chapel. Agee is the former president of Oklahoma Baptist University who became Taylor’s mentor and best friend over the 10 years that Taylor served as provost there. Returning to SBU completed a circle for Agee as he was also in Bolivar a decade ago to speak at Taylor’s inauguration.
“He embodies Southwest Baptist University,” Agee said of Taylor, citing such items as the SBU president’s purple car and purple suit as evidence of his true allegiance to the Bearcats, nickname of the school’s athletic teams.
Taylor is known throughout Missouri Baptist life for his fundraiser skills. He helped lead a Partners in Excellence campaign that raised more than $62.5 million in gifts and pledges and resulted in the completion of about a dozen very significant building projects. Among those accomplishments are the Meyer Center, the Jester Learning and Performance Center, the Plaster Athletic Center, the Dwain and Donna Hammons Center for Facilities Excellence, and several campus renovations.
“I had never raised money before I came here,” Taylor said. “I told the board when they interviewed me, ‘I think I can do this, (but) I’ve never tried it before.’ Within just a few months it became a favorite part of my job.”
He said the key to being a good fundraiser is to add passion to the fact that you do have a good product and you have done your homework in terms of strategizing and planning.
“That donor sitting in front of you has to capture the passion for the project, for the program, for the endowment—whatever it is you’re trying to sell,” he said.
“Some people don’t like to ask for money,” he said. “I do.”
God’s blessing is the final element involved in successful fundraising, Taylor said.
“You bathe everything in prayer,” he said. “When I write a proposal, I pray over that proposal, and then I read it, rewrite it, pray over it some more, and we have other people praying over it, too. So it’s a God thing.”
Under Taylor’s watch, SBU’s endowment has grown from $4.6 million to $16.2 million. His goal is to get it to $40 million.
One indication of the faith that SBU’s trustees have placed in their president to achieve such a goal is the bonus check they gave him during the luncheon. Agee shares their belief, noting during the chapel address that the average stay of a college president in the United States at any one campus is a little less than six years, meaning Taylor is above average.
“May God grant you many more years of good health and strong leadership,” Agee said to Taylor at the end of his message, “and may God richly bless Southwest Baptist University.”
Besides fundraising, another key element of the Taylor legacy at SBU is the release of a school mission statement in May of 1997 that remains to this day: Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society. Taylor seldom misses an opportunity to work that into his motivational talks.
“Pat Taylor’s one of the most effective servant leaders I know,” Agee said.