Ray Anderson Foundation gift to set up Georgia Tech sustainability center

B y Maria Saporta

The legacy of Ray Anderson, a corporate champion of sustainability, will live on at Georgia Tech.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to Georgia Tech to establish the Center on Business Strategies of Sustainability (CBSS) within the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business.

The new program will be developed by Dr. L. Beril Toktay, operations management professor and Brady Family Chair at the Scheller College of Business.

The mission of the CBSS is to become a center for excellence and a pre-eminent hub for business sustainability research, education and industry outreach.   The Center will also serve as a vehicle for managing the commercialization of sustainable technologies, as well as promote business innovations that result in economic, environmental and social value.

The new CBSS will allow Georgia Tech to leverage its existing strengths and deepen them, by becoming a center of excellence for generating and disseminating high-impact research in sustainable business and entrepreneurship.  The Center seeks to educate 21st century students using a blended curriculum that integrates cutting edge business practices with the innovation and technology that Georgia Tech is known for.  The program will rapidly accelerate the adoption of best practices in industry, with the potential to drastically change that landscape in ways that Ray Anderson originally imagined.

“Ray Anderson was known as a ‘radical industrialist’ who inspired others to ‘break institutional inertia’ and innovate a brighter world together,” said Mary Anne Lanier, Ray Anderson’s daughter and a trustee for the Anderson Foundation, in a statement. “We feel like this project at Georgia Tech, his beloved alma mater, epitomizes what he was trying to achieve, by bringing all of the necessary parties to the table to move brilliant ideas into action.”

A distinguishing feature of the CBSS will be the introduction of a series of student-industry engagement events called: “Innovation Tournaments for Sustainability,” designed to harness the knowledge and creativity of interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students who will be challenged with solving various sustainability challenges that have real-world application in industry.

“It is a great privilege to have the ground-breaking support of the Ray Anderson Foundation,” Toktay said in a release. “What we want to achieve is so congruent with Ray Anderson’s vision that I really cannot imagine any other partnership that would be more inspiring to us and send a more powerful message to the world about our aspirations: to do groundbreaking, high-impact research, and to educate the Ray Andersons of the future.”

Ray Anderson, who passed away in 2011, was the founder of carpet tile manufacturer Interface Inc. During the mid-1990s, while he was CEO of the company, Anderson developed a deep awareness on the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability. He spent the rest of his life advancing the message of environmental accountability and innovation to corporate leaders.

 

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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