Alexander Receives President's Medal

Alexander-Drake.jpgCentral Methodist University honored a man without whom the college might not exist, and presented him with its highest honor Thursday evening. During a celebration recognizing the contributions of Fred Alexander ‘58, the Central legend was awarded the prestigious President’s Medal.

President Roger Drake presented the award amidst a celebration that brought together many members of the Alexander family, as well as the patriarch’s friends and other members of the Central community. The medal is the highest honor that Drake can bestow on an individual and is given at his discretion to those who have contributed significantly to enhance the University, and whose contributions made an impact on the campus, the students, faculty, or staff.

“The Board of Trustees told me to award it to people who had made a lasting contribution to the college, to the people who have given sacrificially of their time and talent and treasure,” Drake explained. “Give it to people without whom the college might not exist. . . were it not for their great dedication to the university.”

As evidenced by stories told at the event, Alexander is the perfect example of such a person. Drake told the room about Alexander’s “record of service that will never be matched,” including his 35 years as a member of the Board of Trustees, his donations of land, manpower, and supplies to build up the campus we see today, and his supply of coal to keep the college running when things seemed most dire.

“Fred and [his wife] Barbara carried this college through a time when Central may not have survived without them,” Drake said.

Alexander-family.jpgSentiments on Alexander’s dedication were echoed throughout the night, particularly by his daughter, Leslie Alexander Foiles, who was the first featured speaker. She gave a brief history of her family and her father’s contributions to the university.

“My dad loves his family, his friends, this university, and this community,” she said. “His life has been dedicated to these loves.”

Alexander’s longtime friend, Earl Bates ’61, also spoke about the President’s Medal winner, calling him “the epitome of the American success story.”

“I would have crawled on broken glass from Montana to get here,” Bates told Alexander. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Another lifelong family friend and fellow Trustee, Janet Jacobs ’77, expressed gratitude for Alexander’s contributions, vision, and friendship, notably recalling how the two had once disagreed on the preservation of Classic Hall. In short, Alexander “wouldn’t let Classic Hall die,” and today it is the heart of the arts at Central – housing the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art and the practice rooms for band and choir.

“Looking around the room and around the Central campus and around Fayette,” Jacobs said, “it is apparent that it is Freddie who has shared his wealth with us, in his gifts of treasure, knowledge, and imagination.”

After watching his father receive the President’s Medal, Rick Alexander ’03 fought back tears as he reflected on the “wonderful and appropriate tribute to my dad.”

“I’ve learned from him that nothing worth doing is easy, and that you should never give up on the things that are important,” Rick continued. “The outcome of things may not turn out the way you want them to, but things almost always work out for the best.”

The relationship between the Alexander family and Central Methodist has undoubtedly worked out for the best and will continue to do so, with the gift of 35 acres of land that “will soon propel the college forward in enrollment and student engagement opportunities,” according to Drake.

Evidence of Alexander’s impact can be seen in so many places.

“I could talk all night about how much Fred Alexander means to Central Methodist, but no matter what I say, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in this room,” Drake concluded. “We can stand on any corner of the beautiful campus and see, and feel, the contributions of time, talent, and treasure by Fred Alexander.”

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