A letter to the MC community from upcoming president Dr. Bryan Coker

To the MC Community:

For the first three months of 2020, the thirteenths were proving eventful for me. On January 13, I had my first interview with MC’s Presidential Search Committee; and on February 13, following another round of interviews, I was deeply honored to be introduced as Maryville’s 12th President – that was a very special day for our family, and the excitement of that day remains with us. As for March 13, that day was eventful for other reasons, as it now seems that was likely my last day “in the office” at Goucher College, where I continue to serve as Vice President and Dean of Students until late June. Just like all of you, life looks very different now – since mid-March, I have been teleworking from home, our sons have been homeschooling, and our daughter is back from college and finishing her semester online. 

In all honesty, I find it challenging to hit the right tone and balance in my correspondence these days, and this letter is no exception. While I want to share with you my continued strong enthusiasm for the future of MC, I also want to acknowledge the challenges of this moment for all of us. As I now find myself saying multiple times each day, these are unique and largely unprecedented times. Thousands of Americans have now been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thousands are still suffering as I type. So many are reeling in the wake of immense loss, and healthcare providers, first-responders, and other essential employees are continuing to take risks each day to support the rest of us. In the graduate course I teach at Morgan State University, two students have lost immediate family members to COVID-19, and I know so many others who have been personally touched by this virus in some way. Each day, I take time to consider how blessed my family is, to be together at home, healthy, and safe – I hope and pray that all of you can say the same. 

These unique days have presented me with some time for reading, and much of that reading has been focused on MC’s remarkable history of 200+ years. Few American colleges can boast such a story of grit, resilience, and perseverance, as well as stability in institutional leadership. For me to be only the 12th President in a 200-year history is remarkable in and of itself – much younger colleges are now hiring their 20th or so presidents. MC has successfully weathered previous pandemics, the Civil War, World Wars, the Great Depression, and several financial crises. Each of those events presented immense challenges for MC, and overcoming those challenges was certainly not easy. Ultimately, I believe MC’s history will one day say the same of the COVID-19 era – that despite the circumstances, the ever-resilient Maryville College once again persevered and thrived.

In the spirit of Isaac Anderson, who set forth the lofty mission of “doing good on the largest possible scale,” I believe this current pandemic will make an MC education more relevant than ever before. In the wake of this global crisis, the altruistic spirit and good works of the MC community will be needed more than ever before. Likewise, our world will need MC graduates, equipped with diverse and adaptable skillsets, able to solve complex problems, and ultimately, prepared to do anything since they have studied everything. MC will be a resource for our neighbors during these trying times, recognizing that the health of the college is inextricably linked to the health of our community – simply put, we will be there for each other. 

Please know that all of you have been in my constant thoughts and prayers, and you will continue to be, moving forward. Our family continues to look forward to joining the MC and larger Maryville community in July. I am grateful for the roles that each of you play in the MC community, and I wish you all good health and much peace in the coming weeks. 

Take care, and I’ll see you soon –

Bryan Coker 

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