Steve Eighinger

McGee, QU seem like a perfect fit

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 11, 2018 9:50 am

Remember that old adage about not getting a second chance to make a first impression?

When Brian McGee was introduced Monday as the 24th president of Quincy University -- although he won't begin his duties until July 1 -- he wowed those in attendance inside cozy St. Francis Chapel, much the same as he wowed the 21-person selection committee that offered him the position in late November.

It was easy to see why McGee, who comes to Quincy after 14 years in a variety of positions at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, was hailed as the best of the best when it came to the 67 applicants who had sought the presidency.

It took the QU search committee a year to wade through all of those who had applied, and if first impressions can be believed, the committee hit a home run.

Not only is McGee's resume impressive, but he showed the ability to adapt -- and rather quickly -- to his new surroundings. He was already dropping Quincy references that felt quite natural and unforced. In fairness, McGee does have some familiarity with the region. He has family in Galesburg and is no stranger to West-Central Illinois.

McGee said one of his first -- and likely ongoing -- duties will be to listen to the community and QU students.

Most importantly?

"And learn from those exchanges," he said.

McGee's arrival will officially usher in a new era at Quincy University, one made possible by leadership over the past two years from departing president Phil Conover.

Conover has helped guide QU through an incredibly tough period, one that began when the school unexpectedly found itself about $7 million in the red.

Conover's leadership did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. It was no accident that he received the loudest ovation at Monday's ceremony introducing McGee.

"I'll be working with Phil until he hands off (the presidency) early in the summer," McGee said.

Obviously, McGee is a wise man.

The community itself deserves praise for standing with QU during the troubled times of recent years. While McGee's arrival serves as an exclamation point concerning the future, the past couple of years should not be forgotten.

"We were in a crisis situation, and everyone jumped in to help," said Del Mitchell, chairman of the QU Board of Trustees.

Mitchell detailed how private individuals, companies and local banks offered assistance to the university.

Mitchell believes QU "has come out stronger."

McGee spoke of the passion he has found in Quincy for the university, about the unique fabric of the city itself and how QU is a perfect combination of "faith and reason."

"I am excited to be a member of this community," he said.

Once the community gets to know McGee, I'm pretty sure it will mirror those same feelings.