Nido Qubein

First, to state the obvious: The county commissioners’ mysterious aversion to High Point’s ambitious downtown ballpark plan is, well, just plain dumb.

It makes no sense and it dismisses the urgency of High Point’s situation.

If it doesn’t do something significant — now — to reverse its decline, the county’s second-largest city could be in serious trouble.

Next to state something just as obvious: Where would this project be without Nido Qubein?

The remarkable president of High Point University has raised $50 million for the project already.

His goal was $38 million.

Not that we didn’t expect him to succeed.

Everything Nido touches turns to gold … or at leasr=t it sure seems that way.

He's a force of nature.

A man who rises before dawn every day, who never slows  and who seems to relish every millisecond of his work.

Like one of HPU’s new buildings, Qubein’s legacy was set in stone well before anyone began to talk baseball.

He has transformed HPU during his tenure from a sleepy afterthought to a hot property that keeps growing by leaps and bounds.

He is a like a walking shot of caffeine. I can’t remember a conversation with him that didn’t energize or even inspire me … and I don’t even work for the guy.

To be sure, some skeptics question how sustainable his model for HPU’s breathtaking success is, but so far, so good.

They point to the $1 million-plus annual salary he makes as excessive, but who would argue that he hasn’t earned it, given the school’s enrollment, academic and physical growth on his watch?

A more pertinent question is who will follow such an act?

Who could?

College presidents come and go but Qubein is unique, a brand unto himself.

He shows no signs of slowing down and has dismissed any talk of retirement.

To hear him tell it, he might work forever.

He has been on the job at HPU since 2005 and turned 69 years old on Aug. 21.

The other day I rewatched a video of Qubein’s interview with gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, 67.

Dychtwald recalled the example of the late, great astronaut John Glenn, who went back into space at age 77.

“Just because I’m 77 doesn’t mean I don’t still have dreams,” Glenn said at the time.

Dychtwald’s theme was clear: For a lot of people 60 is no time to slow down. It’s time for new adventures and challenges — “to reboot, to reinvent.”

I don’t think he needed to convince his interviewer.

For some context, Duke basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski is 70 and Greensboro Mayor for Life Bryan Jim Melvin is 82.

But as hard as it is to picture, sooner or later the day will come when Qubein will step down and HPU will need to pick a successor.

His background and his personality are so singular and distinct it won’t be easy.

Who follows Michael Jordan?

He may be 80 when it happens.

But it’s inevitable.

What will HPU do?

What will High Point do?

Contact Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson at allen.johnson@greensboro.com or (336) 373-7010.