An audience of Weatherhead students, faculty, and staff, friends of the school and well-wishers from the community gathered on May 9, 2011, to celebrate philanthropists Char and Chuck Fowler and their $7.5 million gift to establish the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at Weatherhead. Employees of Fairmount Santrol, the Cleveland company headed by CEO Chuck Fowler, were also sprinkled throughout the audience as Roger Saillant, PhD, executive director of the Fowler Center, praised the Fowlers’ commitment to the triple bottom line. “We need more people like Chuck in business. We need more people like Char in philanthropy,” said Dr. Saillant.
The Fowler Center leverages interdisciplinary scholarship and practice to help leaders capitalize on new profitable business opportunities to solve the world’s growing social and environmental problems. It does so through a three-pronged effort: research, collaboration, and outreach, with an emphasis on value creation for businesses through embracing sustainability. Since the Fowlers made their 2009 funding commitment, Fowler Center staff have been hard at work building the three facets of this ambitious mission from the ground up.
Says Beau Daane, manager of the Fowler Center, of the timing of the celebration, “We’ve reached a critical point where our projects have traction. We are helping to shift paradigms, but culture change doesn’t happen overnight. With our commitment to scholarship, networks, and outreach, we are literally trying to change the world. It will take a long time to get where we need to be, but we have made great progress.”
And that, in a nutshell, is why notable figures—Saillant; Barbara Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve University; David Cooperrider, PhD, Fairmount Santrol Professor in Social Entrepreneurship and Professor of Organizational Behavior; and keynote speaker Peter Senge, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability at MIT’s Sloan School of Management—came together to endorse the center’s work and praise its benefactors.
Dr. Senge, a recent addition to the Fowler Center advisory board, spoke about how business leadership can and must lead the way for society by deciding to make sustainability a priority while enhancing profit. A prime example is Fairmount Santrol itself, a large industrial sand company that includes environmental and social sustainability in its mission statement.
Chuck Fowler, himself a graduate of the Weatherhead Executive MBA program, addressed the assembly with characteristic brevity, speaking to the importance of the center’s mandate to “build the road map companies need to use” to achieve sustainable growth in harmony with their communities and the planet.
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