Dinner guests get behind-the-scenes look at MC president
BY MATTHEW STEWART (firstname.lastname@example.org)
KNOXVILLE — Maryville College’s 11th president Thursday provided alumni and friends of the college with a behind-the-scenes look at the man who’s leading the institution through its toughest challenges in more than 60 years.
Officials held Dr. William T. “Tom” Bogart’s inaugural dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Knoxville. The president didn’t make a speech, but instead opened the floor to a question-and-answer session.
During dinner, attendees wrote down questions for Bogart to answer. College students later collected the questions, and they selected about 20 questions for him to answer.
All unanswered questions will be answered and posted on the college’s website in the near future, said Holly Jackson-Sullivan, vice president for advancement and community relations.
When asked about his top three goals over the next five years, Bogart said he plans to:
• Complete Anderson Hall’s renovations;
• Finish the Clayton Center for the Arts’ fundraising;
• Create a strategic plan that will celebrate the college’s bicentennial in 2019.
The president also thanked Blount County’s faith community for their support. “We organize a church and college picnic (on move-in day). Maryville College’s part is that we invite all the churches to come. The rest is that the churches come. We had several dozen churches last year.”
Many denominations were represented at the picnic, he said. “The faith community’s support is real. They were there on a hot Sunday afternoon, and you could see them making our students feel at home.”
The majority of questions were less serious.
Bogart’s first question was: ‘What’s next?’ “Dessert,” he said, to thunderous applause and laughter.
His next question was about things that he wanted to learn.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, speak Spanish and read Russian,” he said. The president later mentioned that he’s interested in studying Japanese.
Bogart later fielded a question about his hobbies. “Not doing chores that my wife gives me and trying to get my daughter to do them.”
After the laughter ended, the president told attendees that he enjoys early-morning runs and reading.
Bogart’s favorite books are usually what he’s reading at the moment. “One of my favorite books right now is “The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel.” I really like books like “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Yes, I know ... I’m a big geek.”
When asked about his dream job as a 10-year-old, Bogart said it was an archaeologist. “... But then I found out what they make.”
An audience member later asked if Bogart scored any goals for Rice University’s soccer team. “I made quite a few goals. Many of them were in games.”
He recalled scoring against Louisiana State University and the University of Texas at Austin.
Bogart later talked about moving to Maryville. “When you make a professional and geographical move, you’re really nervous if it’ll be as good as the first time (that you saw the community). However, everyone’s been really nice to us.”
Many people and groups have gone out of their way to welcome the Bogart family, he said. The president then noted how the college’s vocal ensemble Off Kilter performed a comical version of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for him at the dinner.
Bogart also thanked community members for the generosity and kindness that they’ve shown his family in his first nine months as president.