UM president shares advice with chamber members

University of Montevallo President Dr. John W. Stewart III shared four tips with the business professionals at the Greater Shelby Chamber. (Reporter photo/ Neal Wagner)

University of Montevallo President Dr. John W. Stewart III shared four tips with the business professionals at the Greater Shelby Chamber. (Reporter photo/ Neal Wagner)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— As the University of Montevallo’s president addressed the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce June 28, he shared four pieces of advice for the business professionals in attendance.

Dr. John W. Stewart III is the Montevallo’s 15th president. Under Stewart’s leadership, the university has increased first-year student applications by 44 percent.

He was also instrumental in securing the first $1 million gift in the university’s history and in investing $26 million into campus capital projects and deferred maintenance.

“I’m going to give you two or three nuggets of wisdom as an old, grey, broken-down college administrator,” Stewart said. “So here’s the thing, my little nuggets of wisdom are, first of all, don’t let the stress get to you. It’s really, really easy to lose yourself and to take yourself too seriously.”

Using a personal anecdote, Stewart illustrated times he took himself too seriously, and how his family helped him see he was allowing the stress of the job to take over.

He told chamber members that things are rarely as bad as they seem, to be themselves and to listen to their inner voices—the gut feeling telling them what to do.

While it’s great to try new things and expand into new markets, Stewart said it’s best to be true to yourself in business endeavors. At Montevallo, Stewart said the school has started recruiting out-of-state and internationally, as well as branching into new athletics.

“We are working hard to try new things, but we are always going to be the classy little public arts university that gives a first class education to the citizens of Alabama,” he said.

About 95 percent of their students are from Alabama, and Stewart said that it’s important to keep students here.

Overall, Stewart said the best decisions he’s made in his career have been due to his inner voice. While data is important, he said his gut feeling is more important.

“I would say the best decisions I have made in my professional life were right here, were from the gut,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that I ignore data, or we flaunt obvious stats that we need to look at, but the best decisions I have made are because it felt right.”