One Man's Opinion: Jones College Supports Planning

by Jim Burton* | print pdf

Bringing the Middle Tennessee Region Together

MTSU's Jones College of Business has been privileged to house the Jennings A. Jones Chair of Excellence in Free Enterprise, the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning, and Leadership Middle Tennessee (LMT).

Free Enterprise

The first Excellence in Free Enterprise chairholder was Joe M. Rodgers, ambassador to France during President George H. W. Bush's administration, successful businessman, advocate for traditional values-based organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and spokesman for the free enterprise system and middle Tennessee economic development. With an international network of associates, he was able to bring widely recognized political and business leaders to middle Tennessee.

The second and current chairholder is Aubrey B. Harwell Jr., managing partner of Nashville's Neal and Harwell and national expert in corporate crisis management and white collar criminal defense. He is involved in educational, civic, philanthropic, and cultural organizations such as Meharry Medical College, Easter Seals, Community Foundation, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and BSA. His contacts in the venture capital community have been instrumental in the advancement of a significant number of start-ups, contributing to the region's economic development.

Urban and Regional Planning

The first holder of the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning was Earl Swensson, FAIA, founder of Earl Swensson Associates, Nashville architects and planners. Swensson's imprint on Nashville is known through such signature buildings as the Bell South tower, Opryland Hotel, and Lowe's Vanderbilt Hotel. Swensson was a founder of LMT and of Cumberland Region Tomorrow. He is involved in civic and cultural organizations and an advocate for the sustainability of middle Tennessee's quality of life.

Currently vacant, the chair continues its focus on issues of regional importance, last year hosting Joan Fitzgerald, Northeastern University's director of law and public policy, and planning to welcome in spring 2013 Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Commissioner of Tourist Development.

Leadership Middle Tennessee

LMT's first chair, Marvin Runyon, was the driving force in creating this regionally focused organization. Based on his storied career at Ford, Nissan, TVA, and the U.S. Postal Service, he had a passion for well-run organizations, well-trained leaders, civic involvement, and sustainable communities.

Under its second chairman, legendary Clarksville businessman Jack Turner, LMT grew alumni support and solidified regional corporate importance as a training ground for well-connected, well-rounded leaders. Turner has enjoyed success in his insurance agency and his family business, Ajax Turner Co., beverage distributors. He is an advocate of U.S. soldiers and their families, a civilian advisor to the Pentagon, and a philanthropic supporter of organizations such as the Community Foundation.

LMT's current chair, Seab Tuck, founder of Tuck-Hinton Architects, intends to solidify LMT’s financial and organizational foundations to make it self-sustaining for the long term.

* Jim Burton is dean of Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.


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I am grateful for the privilege of working with these great leaders, genuinely nice people dedicated to the betterment of middle Tennessee, successful in business and active in civic/cultural/educational projects.