Business, service-learning, community experts speak out on campus this week

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The campus was flooded with experts of every type on a rainy Thursday this week.

Starting off with long-time logistics CEO Scott McWilliams of Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, and moving on to Jim Heffernan, the director of a statewide service-learning agency in New York based at Cornell University, and finishing up with Nashville City Mayor Karl Dean describing the latest efforts of his Green Ribbon Committee, all by lunch time.

Read on to learn more about what these speakers brought to campus on Thursday:

Scott McWilliams at the Nashville Business Breakfast

McWilliams spoke at the Nashville Business Breakfast, an educational series that regularly brings hundreds of business people to the campus to hear how the local area will be affected by national trends.

McWilliams didn’t paint a rosy picture, noting that the retail industry will be hit very hard. He should know, as Ozburn-Hessey Logistics is one of the largest logistics companies in the world and transports retail goods for such mammoth company as Starbucks and Apple.

In fact it was an Apple product that he used to illustrate the tough times businesses will face in the near future: iPod sales are projected to decrease by 75%. That was a “wake-up call” for him, he said.

Two of Ozburn-Hessey’s biggest customers are suppliers to Circuit City, which recently announced bankruptcy. “I think it’s going to be dire from a retail perspective,” McWilliams told the crowd.

Jim Heffernan at the Tennessee Campus Compact (TNCC) Statewide Workshop

Heffernan is the executive director of the New York Campus Compact, one of 34 chapters of the national Campus Compact, an organization that works to encourage community engagement and service learning through university members.

Tennessee became a Campus Compact member in March and Thursday’s workshop at Lipscomb was the first TNCC professional development workshop the organization held for faculty and service-learning leaders at the state’s universities and colleges.

Lipscomb was excited to host this workshop as this year it launched The SALT Program, which requires every student to complete at least two service-learning experiences in order to graduate. Lipscomb was recognized by U.S. News & World Reports as a university with one of the top 25 service-learning programs thanks to The SALT Program.

Tennessee established its statewide service-learning organization at an exciting time, according to a national survey of Compact members that Heffernan discussed during his luncheon keynote address.

One-third of college students are participating in organized service events through their campus, he said. The numbers translated into an average of five service hours per week per student, which comes to $7 billion worth of service provided the nation by college students, he said.

In addition, universities are more and more tying service to academic goals, he said. Compact campuses offer an average of 36 service-learning courses, and 85 percent of them consider service work as part of faculty’s promotion and tenure process.

Ninety-eight percent of Compact campuses work with community partners, according to the survey.

“The idea that learning only happens in the classroom is now passé,” Heffernan told the crowd.

Karl Dean at the Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean spoke at the opening luncheon for the Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee and used the moment to announce that his Green Ribbon Committee, established to develop a plan to make Nashville a sustainable city, will immediately begin a three-month study of Nashville’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry serves as the co-chairman of the mayor’s Green Ribbon Committee.

The greenhouse gas study will provide a baseline for improving Nashville’s carbon footprint and “will tell us how we can make the biggest impact,” said Dean during his address.

Dean has also asked the Green Ribbon Committee to immediately working on a community park plan, recommending good areas for playgrounds, pocket parks, community gardens and more.

A survey conducted by the committee, when it was created in June, showed that Nashvillians top concern was more public transportation. “We need to find a dedicated funding source for mass transit,” he said, and he expects to begin work in January when the new legislative session begins.

“We attract smart, talented people to this city,” said Dean. “We have to pay attention to the things that enhance our quality of life.”

Dean was speaking to environmental leaders who came from all over the state to attend the second Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee. The goal of the organization is to develop an overall sustainability agenda for the entire state.

Dean's statements were covered by several local media representatives.