Author: Matt Waldman

Published

New Economic Department Head Chris Cornwell long understood the value of teamwork to an academic. A professor at the Terry College of Business since 1988, Cornwell has contributed to numerous joint research projects, many of which have been translated into lessons for the classroom. But when he incorporated more action-based learning into his Economics of Human Resources course last spring, he said it was the result of his participation in the Archway Partnership Project during his recent tenure as the director of the Leonard Leadership Scholars program.

"I've certainly become much more of an advocate of this kind of experience," said Cornwell, who advised a team of Leonard Scholars that joined forces with Archway to establish a viable arts center in Moultrie, Ga. "I've introduced more teamwork than I have before and my perspective on the teamwork that we do in the class was greatly influenced by this experience."

The Moultrie community had worked with Archway since 2005. When they decided in 2007 that their new economic development plan needed to include an art center, they specifically requested that the Terry College of Business assist them.

"That speaks for the great reputation that Terry enjoys in the state," said Archway director Mel Garber, who learned about the Leonard Scholars when he began a dialogue with Terry about the project. Archway helped Cornwell establish a relationship with the city of Moultrie due to its practice of using university employees as liaisons in the community. This unique partnership helped the students develop a cross-functional team in the areas of finance, organizational management, and marketing to create a sustainable business plan that was well-received by the Moultrie community.

"I can tell you that they have had subsequent meetings on that [business plan] to talk about how they are going to do some of these things. They are going to use that as a guide to make decisions," said Garber. He also praised Cornwell's balanced approach with advising the students. "I thought he had a really good grasp on how tightly he should manage."

The project's student team leader, Lindsay Reene, a recent marketing graduate from the Terry College of Business, learned a lot from Cornwell's leadership. "He has this uncanny ability to see a vision — to see a potential — and to take these big ideas and hammer them down into smaller steps that we as students are able to grasp. He was a great supervisor, he really let us run with it."

Cornwell attributes the success of the project to the teamwork among the university, the students, and the community. "We had never gone so far away (from Athens) to do one of these projects. The distance factor, and as we learned more about what they wanted, the literal challenge of the project, made that process of getting into agreement a little more involved than it had been with other organizations we had helped. But once we came to terms with all that, we knew the Moultrie people were very, very committed to seeing this through. It just became a terrific relationship that extended throughout the entire academic year."