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M. Elton Hendricks became the third president of Methodist University (then Methodist College) in 1983. When he retired 27 years later, he had served longer that any of the 36 presidents then working at independent colleges and universities in North Carolina. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Hendricks has served as pastor of Lillington (NC) United Methodist Church for the last two years.

Hendricks holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Divinity from Duke University, and a bachelor's, Phi Beta Kappa, in history from Wofford College. He is also a graduate of Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management. He has published numerous articles on Methodism and physics.

Originally from Savannah, GA, Hendricks started his career in the U.S. Navy as a naval flight officer. After serving his country, he served a local congregation as a Methodist minister. He began his teaching career at Eisenhower College teaching physics and philosophy and religion.

He taught at his alma mater, Wofford College and served as both the school's residence hall education program director and as director of Admissions. He went on to become the academic dean of Randolph-Macon College. After serving briefly as Randolph-Macon's acting president, Hendricks came to Methodist University as president in September 1983.

He served as a member of the North Carolina Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Executive Committee, the Fayetteville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Fayetteville Economic Development Corporation, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, and as president of Cape Fear Industries. Hendricks also spent several summers with a mission team as a construction worker in rural Bolivia.

He and his wife, Jerry, have three grown children and four grandchildren. They reside in the Fairfield Farms area about a mile north of Methodist University.

Highlights of Dr. Hendricks' Presidency

  • Enrollment more than doubled since 1983, and the number of international students increased six-fold. At the end of 2010, the number of MU graduates reached 9,904.
  • Endowment increased to $15 million.
  • Three strategic plans were developed and implemented since 1989.
  • Three capital campaigns were successfully completed, netting a total of $27.4 million.
  • College developed a full-certified police (public safety) department to provide around-the-clock security for the campus.
  • Methodist sold tax-free revenue bonds on three separate occasions, raising $30 million and using the proceeds to restructure existing debt and finance needed campus improvements.
  • Eleven new buildings, a soccer complex, a challenge course, an office park, and a golf course were built. Major renovations were completed on residence halls, the science building and the cafeteria.
  • Extensive landscaping, Phases I and II of campus irrigation, and a greenhouse were completed.
  • Methodist added twenty-five degree programs (including business administration majors with concentrations in golf, tennis and resort management) and three master's degree programs, then secured national accreditation for five of these programs. In addition, the school added online courses and established the Reeves School of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Lura S. Tally Center for Leadership Development.
  • Methodist required students to sign an academic Honor Code (with specific penalties for cheating and plagiarism) and created an Honor Board to handle major infractions.
  • Faculty sabbaticals were implemented, and hourly employees were welcomed into the College’s benefits program.
  • Methodist offered its first "full-tuition" academic scholarships to outstanding students.
  • Rooms in all residence halls were wired for telephone, cable TV, and Internet service.
  • A campus computing network, Computer-Assisted Composition Laboratory, and Writing Center were established.
  • Methodist doubled the size of its admissions, development, and public relations staffs, increased its advertising budget by a factor of 56, launched a quarterly newsmagazine and a website, developed annual marketing plans, and hired graphic design professionals to create new and colorful student recruitment literature, websites, and brochures promoting academic and athletic programs.
  • Women's soccer, football, and women’s lacrosse were added to the roster of NCAA Division III teams. Methodist joined a new athletic conference, USA South.
  • Methodist's men's and women's golf teams won 32 national championships (nine for the men and 23 for the women).
  • The first history of Methodist University was commissioned in 2002 and published in 2009. In addition, the president funded a University Archives Room and a full-time university archivist for Davis Memorial Library. Two college history videos were produced.
  • Methodist College became Methodist University in November 2006, fifty years after it was chartered as a "senior, coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences."