student demonstrates equipment that is used to create
more efficient Web pages.
FedEx Corporation founder Frederick W. Smith sees it; University
of Memphis President Shirley Raines agrees. Now, dozens are
following in their footsteps.
Partnerships. They are increasingly being recognized as what
makes a university flourish.
In the past few years, more than 250 partnerships, including
one that formed the FedEx Technology Institute, have been
established between the U of M and various community organizations
Partnerships enrich the U of M. Local firms take a responsibility
in the quality of the University, and the University takes
responsibility in the community. This creates a strong educational
and research environment for faculty and students while at
the same time strengthening the surrounding community.
"We want to build the most productive partnerships in
which nonprofits, industry and government agencies are getting
something from us and we in turn are getting something from
them," Dr. Raines says. "We are addressing real
problems that need to be addressed while preparing a new segment
of the work force."
Scheduled to open this fall, the institute is a perfect example
of how a small idea can mushroom into a major educational
endeavor with multiple partners.
"When complete, this will be the research epicenter
of the Mid-South," institute CEO Jim Phillips says.
With the help of partnerships within the institute, the Center
for Multimedia Arts promises to be one of the most advanced
digital post-production labs in the region. The Center for
Artificial Intelligence will explore the furthest reaches
of machine intelligence and software.
A recent $30.6 million software gift from EDS, made in the
name of Wright Medical, is bolstering the research capabilities
of the center. "By pulling together the sharpest thinkers
in business with our professors, students and researchers,
they will push each other to develop what's next,"
Partnerships within the institute are just the tip of the
iceberg. A $5 million union between Methodist Healthcare and
the University has created a new program that focuses on health-care
management and leadership. The Maurice Elliot Leadership Institute
is allowing Methodist managers and administrators an opportunity
to gain advanced certification levels.
"This is a sterling example of investing in people,"
The University is also taking an interest in children. Funded
by a $2 million grant from LHS Inc., the U of M has established
The Child Health Data Consortium. Researchers will collect,
analyze, maintain, monitor and report health data about children throughout Shelby County.
Health-care planners in the Mid-South will be able to use
this data to better plan for children's health issues.
Also aimed at current members of the work force is a recent
partnership between the U of M and Memphis City Schools. In
October 2002, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a $983,227
"Teaching American History" grant that is allowing
the University to strengthen the city's school system.
"Under this grant, the U of M is providing training
for elementary and secondary teachers in traditional American
history," says program director Kenneth Holland, chair
of the University's political science department. Faculty
from the U of M will conduct summer institutes over a three-year
period for teachers from 80 area schools with the themes of
rights and liberties.
The U of M also received another grant from the Department
of Education for a different partnership, this time with Wright
State and Ball State universities. Under a $200,000 grant,
the three American schools have joined three European universities
in the "Regions in Transition Universities in
Response" project. The consortium seeks to build a strong
support network between universities in regions of Europe
and the U.S. that are experiencing significant social, economic
and technological change.
FedEx Technology Institute will be operational later this
The grant will allow the University to exchange students
in the fields of communications, management and public administration
with its European partners: Germany's Jena University of Applied
Sciences, Sweden's Umea University and Spain's Pontifical
University of Salamanca.
"This grant greatly enhances the University's mission
to internationalize the students, faculty and curriculum,"
says Holland, who is a project representative.
Another partnership at the University pairs the Department
of Journalism with Memphis' largest newspaper, The
Commercial Appeal. Local high school students have use
of a classroom on the U of M campus to publish the citywide
Teen Appeal newspaper. The University provides mentors
for the students and conducts a one-week writing course. The
Commercial Appeal contributes staff members to work with
the students and prints and distributes the high school paper.
About 1,300 students have participated in the program since
it began in 1997.
The University also has joined with the Kemmons Wilson family
to build a new academic area at the U of M The Wilson
School of Hospitality and Resort Management. Before he passed
away, Wilson constructed the $15 million campus Holiday Inn
that provides students majoring within the school a real-world
working experience. By pairing with Wilson, the U of M has
created a superior school with access to strong resources
and a vital link to the industry.
Partnerships for the University are many. "What we ask
is that something productive must come from this, not only
in terms of the students being in these environments, but
also that real problems are being addressed," says Raines.
By staying connected to the environment through these collaborations,
the U of M will continue to thrive.