Not all big ideas are actually all that big, at least in the terms of how most people define big – expensive (big money), grand (big project), or revolutionary (big change). Some of the best, big ideas are notions that are much smaller or simpler in scale but do the work that makes a lasting impression. They can be the ideas that make the difference.

Such was the case last summer at Presbyterian College.Presbyterian College

Mike and I were at PC to discuss potential projects and opportunities for collaboration with Brian Fortman, dean of enrollment, and Deborah Thompson, vice president of enrollment management and communications. We also enjoyed a campus tour.

Most people know that summer in South Carolina isn’t for the timid, especially mid-day and afternoon. What I’m saying is, it was hot.

Just as we were headed back out into the heat, Brian asked if we wanted some cold water for the road. He disappeared into the admissions offices to get what we assumed would be a couple of plastic bottles of H2O. Instead, he returned with some very nice, metal, Presbyterian College branded, pre-filled and pre-chilled sustainable water bottles.


“Nice,” I commented. “These are even ice cold. I was expecting a couple of generic plastic water bottles.”

“Presbyterian College takes its commitment to sustainability very seriously,” said Brian, earnestly. “Student workers keep a stock of these pre-filled and pre-chilled ready for visitors,” he continued. “They make nice keepsakes, but that’s not really why we do it. We want prospective families to know we’re a very green campus.”

Wow. I’ve never thought of Presbyterian College as a green school. Neither had Mike. Our preexisting impressions about Presbyterian were about its affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, about its unique mascot (Go Blue Hose!), and their strong academic program. But in that one moment, a moment that gets replicated hundreds of times throughout the year by Brian, Deborah, and their team of admissions counselors, a new and lasting impression was made about Presbyterian.

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Now, when I talk about institutions with a “walk the walk” commitment to sustainability, I include Presbyterian on the list. And when I think about what South Carolina is like in the summertime, I no longer think simply “hot.” I also think of that very cold, very blue, very sustainable, Presbyterian College-branded, metal water bottle.