Innovative off-site facility launched in Williamson County
By Kim Chaudoin on 1/5/2012
Lipscomb University will launch its first university-operated off-site facility in early 2012 as it opens a new site in the Cool Springs area in Williamson County. University officials recently finalized a lease on a nearly 5,000-square-foot facility located at Cool Springs Boulevard and Aspen Grove Drive in the Thoroughbred Village III Professional Plaza.
The facility, which will be referred to as “Spark,” is designed to create an environment for innovative ideas in learning, business, faith and the community. A technology-rich facility, Spark will offer flexible space and innovative delivery systems for Lipscomb graduate, adult learning and certificate students as well as for corporations and community organizations in the area who are looking for a meeting venue that encourages fresh thinking.
“Spark represents the next generation of growth for the university as well as progressive thinking about education space. Spark is part of the university’s larger strategy to take innovative education and professional development opportunities to prospective participants in surrounding areas, offering them access to Lipscomb’s mission and purpose without them having to be physically located on our Nashville campus in Green Hills,” said Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry. “It will enable Lipscomb to expand its academic programming and offer a convenient option that echoes the programming on the Nashville campus to residents and businesses in the Williamson County area as well. This site allows us to promote and grow our existing programs into a new market and provide a much-needed service to this region.”
Last year, the College of Education began offering graduate education classes at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro and at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin and has tripled enrollment in those cohorts in just two years. The SPARK facility will be the first university-operated off-campus site.
Spark will be led by John Lowry, assistant professor of business at Lipscomb, who will manage the day-to-day operations of the facility. Lowry, who helped establish Lipscomb’s recent programs in executive education, corporate training and an MBA fellowship program, will also continue to work on special projects for Lipscomb’s College of Business.
“Our research has found that the demographics of Williamson County and the surrounding area make it one of the best counties in the country to offer graduate education. Fifty-two percent of people living in the vicinity of Spark have college degrees and tend to be younger and more affluent than average. Williamson County leaders are excited about Lipscomb University being a part of their community and partnering with us as we seek to serve its residents just as we have the Nashville community. This facility also benefits from the university’s experience in hosting numerous successful community and corporate events on Lipscomb’s main campus as it brings this new and innovative meeting space to Williamson County,” said John Lowry.
Williamson County leadership said they look forward to Lipscomb’s presence in the county.
“Lipscomb’s presence here brings more opportunities for Williamson County residents to pursue higher education and all of the benefits that goes with it. Having more higher educational opportunities in the county along with an extremely strong public school system makes this an even more attractive place for families and businesses to move,” said Rogers Anderson, county mayor for Williamson County.
“This non-traditional, state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the Cool Springs business community will offer flexibility and convenience for those who need to pursue a degree program around a work schedule as well as an environment that will spark creative thinking for community and corporate groups using the facility. This is yet another example of how Lipscomb University is creating opportunities to serve the community,” said Cindi Parmenter, president of the Brentwood Cool Springs Chamber of Commerce.
The academic programming to be offered at Spark includes degree work from several colleges and institutes at the university. Most of those classes will take place in the evenings and on weekends. When the space is not being used for academics—primarily during the daytime—it will be open to businesses and organizations looking for off-site options for meetings and other events. Construction on Spark will begin in the next few weeks with anticipated completion in the spring.
Lipscomb’s new facility will be a multi-purpose space providing the physical capability to accommodate various learning needs. It will consist of three learning spaces, each accommodating 24 to 36 participants depending on group size needed. Walls may also be reconfigured to create one large space. The result is a flexible space for event and academic activities that can quickly accommodate a need as small as one-on-one meetings or as large as a 125-person lecture. Additional spaces include a catering kitchen, a workspace area, a video conferencing room and two conference rooms along with a pre-function entry space that can be branded to participant use and is designed to hospitably welcome students, professionals and visitors.