American Society of Military Comptrollers Luncheon

June 6, 2013
Lee Club, Lee Room

Thank you, Tammy, for inviting me to be here. I understand that you’re the daughter of a VCU graduate. Your father graduated in 1970, is that right? And you also hope to be the mother of a VCU graduate in a couple of years — that you have a 16-year-old who’s looking at attending VCU. That’s great.

When I was invited to be here, I was asked to give a speech that was “not like a general would give.” You hear from generals often, I understand. That’s not a problem. In my job, I often feel fatigued, but I don’t wear fatigues. Still, as a university president, there is a certain amount of artillery that’s lobbed at you from all directions. I’m thankful for positive partners like you. You are business leaders who are making a difference in our community.

There is no one who’s more positive that Col. Rodney Edge, who commands the garrison here. He likes to say, “I want everyone to have a great day ? on purpose!” I appreciate his enthusiasm and contagious spirit, and I hope that all of us can have great day together.

What you do is critical to Central Virginia. Ft. Lee has a $2.4 billion economic impact on this region and is also increasingly an important partner for VCU.

VCU, you may know, is part of an innovative collaboration called CCALS, short for Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics. It is a partnership of several universities, including VCU, the University of Virginia and others. Ft. Lee is soon to become its newest member. CCALS helps corporations solve proprietary problems related to logistics, supply chain management by draw on expertise of these universities, and all of you. MeadWestVaco, Owens & Minor and Dollar Tree are some of the companies looking to become involved.

Why is this important? Well, lots of reasons. A group called Richmond’s Future — which looks at exactly that — wrote a white paper that said that Central Virginia should support logistics enterprises because of the presence of our intersecting interstate highway systems, the Port at Hampton Roads, Fort Lee, and the UPS and Amazon distribution facilities that are located here.

It is critical that we emerge as a national leader in this field, but it will require thoughtful planning, leadership and — perhaps most important — partnership. We all have a role, and I appreciate the commitment of the American Society of Military Comptrollers.

VCU is also committed to this cause. A few years ago, DuPont came to us looking to hire interns in logistics, which led us to begin what would become an undergraduate program in supply chain management. It’s now elevated to a department within our School of Business, which the Board of Visitors just approved in May.

Taking that a step further, we are now developing a master’s degree in logistics and supply chain management, which will be the first degree of its kind anywhere in Virginia. We’re doing this in conjunction with the Army Logistics University here at Ft. Lee, and I’m grateful to my colleague John Hall, president of the Army Logistics University, for his collaborative spirit. We expect to begin offering this master’s degree in fall 2014.

We also offer a new master’s degree in analytics, which is a 12-to-15-month program for working professionals. There is a tremendous need for this type of degree, given the great shortage in this field. We are also wrapping up an excellence hire, which is a big deal, who will be a new professor of supply chain management. The individual we expect to hire is an Army veteran who was stationed at Ft. Lee and will take the lead in our burgeoning relationship with the base. He will also be our representative to CCALS, by the way.

VCU’s efforts are really unique in the commonwealth, and we’re doing this because Richmond and Virginia needs us as well. But we are not doing it alone. I am grateful to our many strong partners, like Fort Lee, and like many of you. I know there will be a lot of opportunities moving forward.

We have to embrace those opportunities. At VCU, we talk about “making it real,” that is, using the educational foundation to make a difference in the world. We ask our students, when they graduate, to be job creators rather than job takers. We want them to be leaders in their fields and in their communities. That includes the excellent graduates from our School of Business.

Our School of Business is really a rising star nationally. It’s ranked in the Top 5 percent of schools of business worldwide and is home to nationally renowned centers like the Brandcenter and the da Vinci Center, which is really a model of collaboration for us. The da Vinci Center sponsors a Venture Creation Competition every year, which fosters student innovation and entrepreneurism across the university, not just in the School of Business.

Our students really do embrace innovation, even as undergraduates. We have an event every April at which undergraduate students are invited to present their research. This year, we ran out of space because of the great turnout. We surveyed our students to ask them about their interest in entrepreneurship, and half of them say they have a “high” or “moderate” interest. In the School of Business, by the way, it’s more than 80 percent. And 7 percent of our students already have an idea that they’re working to turn into a start-up, and VCU is working with them to provide resources.

Ed Grier, the dean of our School of Business, has been a tremendous national leader for our national research university because he has a strong desire to engage the school with the community, at events like this, and tie community expertise back into the curriculum.

I absolutely encourage you to work with Ed as his partner, both the ASMC organization and as leaders in your industry and at your corporation. And let us know how VCU can be a resource to help you. What we are really looking to do is engage with one another, and learn from each other, and really leverage our collaborative strengths.

Let’s work closely together to make Central Virginia the national headquarters for logistics and supply chain management. But more than that, let’s advance business education and create opportunities for universities and industry partners everywhere. We need to work together to solve that problems that affect our world and impact the way we do business. These are complex problems that require complex solutions found in new ways of collaborative thinking.

Thank you for beginning this process.

I’m happy to take a few questions.