CSU Receives $1 million Gift from The Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $1 million to Columbus State University to establish The William B. Turner Center for Servant Leadership. The gift will enable the undergraduate Servant Leadership program to continue with a robust academic and service curriculum. The Center will also provide for the integration of CSU's Servant Leadership Core Value into staff and faculty enrichment and leadership development programs.

"We believe it is critical that we all support the next generation of leaders," said Helen Smith Price, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation. "We are proud to have been one of the first supporters of The Servant Leadership Program at Columbus State University almost 20 years ago. Due to the success of the program, we are now providing this grant to help ensure that Mr. Turner's vision for the program continues for years to come."

Mr. Turner was instrumental in initiating CSU's focus on Servant Leadership. He launched the first discussions about a Servant Leadership program and offered significant financial support of early Servant Leadership initiatives. Today, CSU's Center for Servant Leadership supports staff, faculty, and students in their leadership development journeys. Among the programs delivered by the Center are a Servant Leadership undergraduate program, which offers an annual stipend and leadership development opportunities for students throughout their entire undergraduate career; an internal leadership development program for faculty and staff called L.I.V.E. CSU; and a food pantry that serves CSU students. The endowment funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation will provide the Center with support to continue and expand these programs.

"Mr. Turner's vision of Servant Leadership is deeply ingrained in the culture of CSU. The undergraduate program provides CSU students with a one-of-a-kind experience, unmatched by any other university, and the leadership development opportunities for faculty and staff help to shape service-minded leaders for our university, community, and world," said CSU President Markwood. "This generous gift by The Coca-Cola Foundation celebrates Mr. Turner's passion for Servant Leadership and it will empower CSU to share these important values with many generations to come."

CSU's undergraduate Servant Leadership program was launched in 1999 by Mr. Turner, Dr. Mary Sue Polleys, and former CSU President Frank Brown. Mr. Turner helped to fund the program and solicited other donations for stipend endowments, which has allowed the program to provide $2,500 annual stipends to 60 CSU students over the last 20 years. Mr. Turner also devoted a significant amount of time to the program, offering many students the opportunity to chat with him over a classic bottle of Coke. CSU's ten servant leadership behaviors are based on a list created by Mr. Turner, and Servant Leadership is one of CSU's six core values.

The announcement of the $1 million gift was made this morning at an annual celebration breakfast, which recognizes the work of seniors in the undergraduate Servant Leadership program.

Present to announce the gift was the President of The Coca-Cola Foundation and Vice President of Global Community Affairs of The Coca-Cola Company, Ms. Helen Smith Price. Members of Mr. Turner's family were invited to attend along with other friends and community leaders.

For more information on CSU's Center for Servant Leadership, please click here.