Introduction of Mike Cody by Gary Brazzell (’93):
Tonight, it is my pleasure to introduce this year’s Distinguished Alumni
Award. This is the highest award given by the Alumni Association. The
Distinguished Alumni Award has always been my favorite part of the
alumni banquet, because it’s great to see the different ways alumni
have excelled. What’s more, the accomplishments of all of you bolster
my school pride more than most other things can. As is fitting an
institution like St. Andrews, the accomplishments we choose to
recognize have been all over the map. I’ve seen this award go to alumni
who have excelled in business, who have become prominent in
academia, and who are doing amazing humanitarian and mission work.
Tonight, we recognize an alumnus for yet a different set of
accomplishments. Tonight we recognize Mike Cody for being an
exemplary alumnus of St. Andrews. Now you might easily assume that
Mike has earned the Distinguished Alumni Award for all that he has
given to St. Andrews in time and talent – for his volunteer work. And, in
truth, that alone would have been enough. However, when Laura Rose,
class of ’91 nominated Mike Cody, the pleasure and enthusiasm with
which the Alumni Council accepted Mike’s nomination stemmed from
more than appreciation for tireless volunteerism.
You see, there’s a theme that’s been emerging in alumni council
conversations the past couple of years – maybe longer depending on
how you want to define it. I like to call it “continuity of community.” It’s
the idea that you graduate, but you should stay connected, because the
St. Andrews community continues to have a lot to offer, and there’s a
lot you can offer it. I’m not talking about donations or volunteerism – I
am but I’m not. I’m talking about continuing the St. Andrews
experience for life. That can be as simple as coming back for alumni
weekend every year and getting your batteries recharged. It can be
coming to plays, enrolling in an online class, connecting on social
media, finding away games to attend, and taking advantage of
whatever points of connectivity are within your reach. Mike Cody has
been a tireless and talented volunteer and leader for St. Andrews AND
he as been like a brother to just about anyone else who calls St.
Andrews alma mater.
Mike first showed up on my personal radar at an alumni weekend
several years ago. Someone came up to me and said “Hey! Mike Cody
and a bunch of alumni are painting offices on the academic side. Wanna
come help?” I only had a passing familiarity with Mike at this point. So I
thought “Hmmm. A bunch of 80s and 90s graduates, on alumni
weekend, indoors, with paint.” No, thank you. That had disaster written
all over it. I didn’t want my fingerprints anywhere close to it.
Well you can imagine my surprise when later that weekend someone
told me that not only were offices painted, but they looked great. I had
to see for myself. I trekked over there, and they looked good. Now sure.
Lots of people can paint. I’m not one of them, but other people can
paint. The trick here is that on, what is for many of us, the biggest party
weekend of the year, someone managed to get a bunch of volunteers
moving in the same direction – and let’s be real, St. Andrews volunteers
can be like herding cats. Get people, many of whom are quite
successful in their respective walks of life, to give up some vacation
time, do a good job, and enjoy it before, during and after. That’s when I
said, I need to spend some time with this Mike Cody fellow.
Spending time with Mike wasn’t hard, because like I said, if you call St.
Andrews alma mater, Mike Cody calls you brother or sister. You can
find him at every alumni weekend. He’s often at the back of his truck
serving from an ample supply of free beer, that he made himself for
everyone else. If not that, you can find him working some fundraiser
that he’s spearheading. If not that, and alumni weekend is between
parties and gatherings, sometimes you can find him in Farrago or
wherever leading a team of volunteers to put an extra clean on some
space we need. If, in the future, you want to see how to spell Mike
Cody’s name, just check the current donor roll for St. Andrews. He’s
one of the people who are always on it.
If a group of St. Andrews students and professors are overseas, he
might be there with them. Some of the overseas trips that our
professors famously lead have been open to alumni. Mike reached out
for that adventure and point of connectivity to St. Andrews – going on
one of the recent India trips. He made sure to take a St. Andrews scarf
that he purchased from a recent fundraiser and to get photographed all
over India with that scarf on display.
When Neal Bushoven moved out of Mecklenberg, Mike was there with
a truck to help him get started. They didn’t get all of Neal’s belongings
out of that apartment. The repercussions of the flood later ruined what
was left. So in essence, it took an act of God to finish moving Neal
Bushoven out of Mecklenburg. I find that appropriate. Neal is not the
only St. Andrews-connected person that Mike has helped move.
Remember what I said about alumni brothers and sisters.
It’s easier for Mike Cody to know who’s moving and to be here to help
them, because he’s here so often, doing so much. So many things here
have Mike’s fingerprints on them: memorial benches, the Celtic rock,
the volley ball net at the beach, etc. What I also find laudable about the
projects he makes possible is that some of them are his own creations,
but many of them are other peoples’ ideas. He gets motivated by other
peoples’ passions and ideas, too, and makes things happen.
I remember when the Dean of Students, Dr. Verhey pulled a bunch of
us aside at an alumni weekend about four years ago and proposed the
idea of making campus-wide wifi for the students. The problem with Dr.
Vehey’s proposal is that he had a quote to get this done, and it was
more than we were going to be able to muster in donations. But a few
of us stood around and started adding up the costs of doing it
ourselves. And we figured out that we could easily secure the donations
for the supplies. It was the cost of labor holding this project back. We
have enough skills and talent in the alumni body to get many amazing
things done, including this wifi project. Several people volunteered the
labor, but we were having a hard time getting us all here at the same
time. After, working up the plans, staring at the plans long enough,
working with the people we needed to connect with on campus, Mike
Cody finally told me, look, if you can get the materials here by this date,
my son and I will come on this date and get the residential side wired
up. So I made a few calls, and Mike pitched in some important financial
support himself, and he turned that aspiration into a reality – which is a
theme of the way Mike has worked for the entire alumni body. In
subsequent years, other people have added to that success story, but I
maintain that Mike’s knack for turning other people’s aspirations into
tangible successes was the catalyst for the completion of the rest of
Which was pretty much what Laura Rose wrote when she nominated
Mike Cody for this year’s Distinguished Alumni award. She said, “When
I want to get something done that’s alumni related, I call Mike Cody.” If
you call St. Andrews us, Mike Cody is one of us, and he does that really
well. He does it all in an unassuming way that can be easy to overlook.
In fact, my long-winded way of explaining all of this, while expected for
an awards banquet, probably doesn’t fit Mike’s personality. The Mike
way of saying it would probably be more like “Mike digs St. Andrews.
St. Andrews digs Mike.” Mike makes being passionate about St.
Andrews look cool. That is why tonight, on behalf of the entire Alumni
Association, it is my pleasure and privilege to present the 2019
Distinguished Alumni Award to Mike Cody.