Ferrum News

Ferrum Forum on Critical Thinking, Innovation & Leadership, a Student's View


Ferrum Takes Yet another Step Forward with the Ferrum College Forum on Critical Thinking, Innovation & Leadership

By Megan Hodges

Meagan Hodges at Secretary Eagleburger's tableThe Ferrum College Forum on Critical Thinking, Innovation & Leadership was held on Thursday, April 7, 2011 from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. Select Ferrum students and faculty participated in this forum, the purpose of which was to exchange and cultivate ideas on issues such as new technology, financial innovation, and environmental concerns. For many students and faculty, the morning began rather early with a shuttle bus departing from campus at 6:15 a.m. and arriving at the conference center around 7:15 a.m.

John Carlin, Ferrum College Public Relations Director, opened the forum by introducing Ferrum College President, Dr. Jennifer Braaten as a “fearless leader.” Dr. Braaten began the morning with inspiring words by saying, “At Ferrum, we are always thinking about the future.” She emphasized Ferrum’s belief in “educational empowerment,” “economic development and partnership,” and our “emphasis on the environment and energy.”

Next, the first keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Lacker, was introduced by Dr. Christine Stinson, Ferrum College Chief Information Officer. Dr. Lacker is the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and is an alternate voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee in 2011. He spoke about financial innovation in today’s economy. His key topics were financial regulation, economic instability in today’s market, and housing finance policy.

The second keynote speaker, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, was introduced by Dr. Leslie Lambert, Ferrum College Provost for Academic Affairs. Before Mr. Eagleburger’s session, Dr. Lambert expressed her love for Ferrum by saying, “I have one of the finest jobs in theEagleburger world to work with Ferrum’s students and Faculty.” Lawrence Eagleburger is a former U.S. Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush, and served in various other governmental positions under Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Eagleburger provided a realistic, yet humorous, perspective on today’s politics. He spoke of building a more stable country and the negative effects of over-regulation by the government. He said that “More regulation in education is not helping the quality of education”, and “99 times out of 100, you are better off starting at a small college to educate your children adequately.” His passion for education brought relevant insight to the forum, and he ended his speech with great motivation by saying, “It will take pain and anguish, but we are citizens of the greatest country in the world and we will be able to pull together through this crisis.”

Kim Blair, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Ferrum College, introduced the final keynote speaker, Mr. Ron Smith, as a man with “a passion for renewable energy.” Mr. Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of Verdant Power Inc., and spoke about the challenges that entrepreneurs face. These challenges include the need for technology, accessibility to funding, and the “ability to execute” or get things done. His main point was that “better networks are critical to company development,” and since he has also lead the start-up and growth of a nationwide advertising company, he spoke from experience.

After the speakers, participants had a chance to ask questions, with John Carlin leading a panel discussion. The panel was comprised of the three keynote speakers, along with Mr. Frank Simms of AEP, The Honorable Ray Grubbs, and Mr. Harvey Brookins of Wells Fargo. This was a great opportunity for discussion of what was covered by the speakers, and gave others a chance to elaborate on important issues. After the panel, Dr. Braaten made closing remarks and adjourned everyone to a luncheon, also held at Hotel Roanoke. The forum was a success and an inspiration to Ferrum College students and faculty in a time of renovation and change on campus. The forum also provided participating students with the opportunity to meet and learn from prominent individuals in their surrounding community.