Coca-Cola gives Columbus State $1 million in Bill Turner’s name

Local News

A signature Columbus State University program received a major financial gift from one of the Georgia’s top companies Tuesday. 

The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded $1 million to establish The William B. Turner Center for Servant Leadership.  

Bill Tuner, former chairman of the W.C. Bradley Company, died almost two years ago.  

He was instrumental in initiating CSU’s focus on Servant Leadership. There are now graduate and undergraduate degrees available in servant leadership. 

CSU President Chris Markwood says it is fitting to have Turner’s name on the center. 

“Mr. Turner’s name on this center means so much to us and we could not be more thankful to Coca-Cola for their contribution to make that happen.” 

It will help CSU broaden its offerings, Markwood said.

“Leadership matters, but how you lead matters more,” Markwood said. “But we also now have leadership development opportunities throughout the campus for our faculty, our staff to help them develop their leadership potential in the model of servant leadership.”

Helen Smith Price, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation, said it is critical the foundation support the next generation of leaders.

“We are proud to have been one of the first supporters of The Servant Leadership Program at Columbus State University almost 20 years ago,” she said in a CSU news release. “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.”

Bill Turner served on the Coca-Cola Board of Directors and his grandfather, W.C. Bradley, was a former chairman of the Coke board. Many have said, Turner was the city’s most influential leader over the second half of the 20th century and into this century.

CSU’s undergraduate Servant Leadership program was launched in 1999 by Turner, Dr. Mary Sue Polleys, and former CSU President Frank Brown.

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. 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 10 servant leadership behaviors are based on a list created by 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. 

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