As individuals, we pride ourselves on our reputation.  Similarly, companies strive to acquire a good reputation through hard work, a customer focus, offering a good product or service, treating their employees well, and being a good corporate citizen to their community. Reputations are earned, not granted. Reputations are not guaranteed. Reputations take time to build, but the wrong action or decision can have an immediate and long-lasting consequence on that reputation. Reputations are fragile, and must never be taken for granted. Reputations must be constantly worked, shaped, enhanced, polished and improved on. As individuals, without a reputation we have little to fall back on the convince others that we are trustworthy, caring and someone who they would want to stay connected with. For companies, their reputation is their image. A strong reputation, a strong image. A mediocre reputation, well, you know.

Lee College, for example, has built a reputation in 85 years of serving students and our communities. Each of our employees, faculty, staff and administrators, also have built reputations through their commitment to the College and service to our students. Those reputations are not taken lightly. They are meaningful and powerful. They tell a story about the individual and about Lee College. We are proud of our employees’ reputations just like we are proud of the College’s reputation.

As you have noticed in the articles that I have written over the past few months, Lee College has many partners.  Their reputations affect the College, and Lee College’s reputation affects them. One of those partners, who has been a part of Lee College dating back to the early 1900s, when they were known as Humble Oil, is ExxonMobil. Over the years you have heard me talk about the valuable relationship that ExxonMobil and Lee College have, not only through their financial support of our institution, but also the role ExxonMobil employees play in serving on our many technical program advisory committees, the opportunity for our students to complete internships in their facilities, the guest speakers who come to our classes and give “real world” talks to our students about the dynamic and booming petrochemical industry, and the opportunity to provide training to incumbent workers through short-term advanced training courses.

What ExxonMobil means to Baytown and our surrounding communities is immeasurable. They are good corporate citizens, and like us, they value the relationships they have with members of the communities. As an employer, they set the gold standard for wages, benefits and doing the right thing for their most important asset — their employees. You cannot be in a community for over 100 years, and not have created a legacy of goodwill and caring for those that are also a part of that community.

As I conclude my time at Lee College in January, I will look back and recall the many friends and partners that I have had the pleasure of knowing and being involved with.  I have met many plant managers and other employees that have left an indelible impact on me, and most importantly, on Lee College. ExxonMobil is a great story. That story needs to be told. Today is one of those chapters of the story, with many more to come. Lee College and this community are blessed to have such a great corporate partner like ExxonMobil. There is much more to come. Stay tuned!

Dr. Dennis Brown is president of Lee College.

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