When The Boeing Company built its Dreamliner 747 factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, a few years ago, it proved a learning experience — both for the firm's adopted community and for the staff who relocated in the state's third-largest city.
"We realized that being a true part of the community we call home demands sustained and meaningful engagement with the faith-based community," recalled Timothy Keating, executive vice president for governmental operations and global engagement.
The Rev. Nelson Rivers III, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church, was one of the first clergy Keating met. Rivers convinced Keating to form a partnership for a kindergarten through grade 12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiative and after-school programs in support of the North Charleston community. That was only the beginning.
One of Rivers' longtime friends is James H. Salley, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Africa University. When AU brought its fall 2017 meeting of trustees, advisors, executives, and friends to North Charlelston, Salley invited Rivers to visit with them. Rivers became so excited about AU that he and three members of his congregation traveled to the university in January 2018. Then he invited the AU Choir to sing at his church.
Rivers approached Keating about helping to fund the choir tour. "Boeing was proud to sponsor the Africa University choir during their February performance in South Carolina," Keating said.
"At Boeing," he continued, "we seek to be a global industrial champion. We also have a broader mission to 'connect, protect, explore and inspire' the world. That's a mission we are dedicated to pursuing, and we can't do it in our own backyard alone."
When Salley invited Keating to speak at this year's Africa University commencement, the executive discovered new ways to live out that mission.
"During my visit to AU," Keating said, "I had a very special opportunity to teach a class and engage with students. I was struck by the enthusiasm, ambition and intellect of the students, and I left feeling inspired about the next generation of young people preparing to lead their communities and workplaces."
|On the eve of the graduation ceremony, Keeting participated in a moderated discussion with more than 200 students.|
"To have a company like Boeing send one of its top executives to deliver the graduation address and start conversations exploring a future relationship is exciting," said Bishop Marcus Matthews. "I found both Tim and his wife, Ann, to be spiritual voices in the corporate world."
The couple decided to invest personally in AU with a four-year, endowed $130,000 scholarship fund in perpetuity for women majoring in education.
"Given Ann's teaching career and our shared commitment to helping young people succeed," Keeting said, "we were proud to make this commitment to the scholarship fund together, confident it would make a difference in the lives of women who chooses to pursue a career in education." sweethearts.
At Africa University, Keating received the institution's first honorary doctorate degree in leadership and governance.
"The visit by the Keatings, their generous gift of an endowed scholarship and Dr. Keating becoming an alum of Africa University make the Keatings key members of the Africa University community," added Munashe Furusa, AUs vice chancellor.
"Boeing and AU have a shared interest in technology and innovation, two topics that are top of mind for Boeing every day,: said Keating. "There's a lot of opportunity for partnership there. Boeing is also committed to building a STEM-engaged workforce both for our company and the thousands of others found throughout our global supply chain."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, UMCom retiree, freelance writer and editor
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.