The University of Lynchburg has announced the creation of the Center for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships. It will be led by Dr. Jeremy M. Welsh, newly named chief innovation officer and executive director of the center. Welsh also serves as dean of the School of PA Medicine and senior associate dean of the College of Health Sciences.
Welsh, a professor of PA medicine, founded Lynchburg’s innovative and forward-thinking Doctor of Medical Science degree that has brought 500 new students annually to the University. He works with hospitals and medical practices throughout the country to advance clinical care and expand provider workforce utilization. He is also a graduate of the MIT Management Sloan School’s executive program in innovation.
The center, located on Lakeside Drive, will house a committee that grew out of the Task Force on Innovation and Collaboration, also led by Welsh. It is one of three task forces appointed by President Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar to support her three strategic pillars: diversity, equity, and inclusion; leadership development; and innovation and collaboration. All three task forces have submitted recommendations to the president and have begun implementing them.
“This is an enormous step in moving the University’s vision forward,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “Innovation and partnerships are so integral to the fabric of this institution, and the Center for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships gives them a visible home and a structure to help implement all of the fabulous ideas that are being generated in every corner of our campus.”
The task force had already begun considering ideas during the development phase. The team had received ideas via email, a Google form, phone calls, and verbally, Welsh said, adding that an open submission process is essential to the success of the center. Creation of the center, with a physical home, as well as an idea submission website, will accelerate the process and help turn those ideas into reality, he added.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to make this happen,” Welsh said. “This new structure will allow us to be even more effective and collaborative. There is so much talent not just on campus, but in the city as a whole, and we hope to enable and amplify all of the innovation that is happening in Lynchburg.”
Initial seed funding from the University will help the center invest in that innovation, which will then “produce cost savings, revenue generation, and new ventures for the future,” Welsh said.
It’s a solid plan, says Dr. Roger Jones, who led the Task Force on Leadership Development. As co-director of the Center for Education and Leadership, associate provost and dean of graduate studies, and director of the Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies program — and someone who has spent decades leading a variety of initiatives and collaborating with community organizations — Jones knows a thing or two about harnessing talent, generating ideas, and bringing them to life.
“For me, PQ and CQ are just as important as IQ. Your passion and curiosity quotients are critical,” Jones said. “We should all be curious about why things are the way they are and why they cannot be better. What I love about the Center for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships is that it provides faculty and staff an opportunity to take advantage of their passion and their curiosity to offer suggestions and ideas that can help move the University forward.
“We have outstanding people on this campus with great ideas. This center gives them a chance to share those ideas — ideas that may help us strengthen our community connections, create new programs, strengthen current programs, or generate additional revenue.
Dr. Robert Canida, who led the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is equally thrilled by the progress Welsh and everyone else on the president’s task forces have made in the past year.
“The University of Lynchburg is on the cusp of excellence,” Canida said. “With the excellent work accomplished by our three pillars, and now with the creation of the Center for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, we are definitely making our mark as the city of Lynchburg’s University! However, we will never lose sight of the Zulu saying, ‘Ubuntu: I am because you are.’ We are stronger together!”