As undergraduate and graduate classes at LMU got underway this morning, the University also launched a new initiative, Women of Service.
University Advancement invited alumni, friends and donors of LMU to invite other women to a special luncheon at Club LeConte in Knoxville. The goal was to start a group of women to pursue service opportunities on behalf of and benefiting the University and its students. Gathered on the 27th floor of the First Tennessee building, not even the swaying of the earthquake could shake this group (for the record I didn’t feel anything, but there were those in attendance who said they could).
Vice President for University Advancement Cindy Whitt kicked off the program, presenting her vision for the group as well as highlighting a handful of LMU alumnae with strong records of service. Whitt defined the mission and purpose of Women of Service as encouraging women to live with passion while serving others.
Service may seem self explanatory, though sometimes it is difficult to define and not everyone looks at service the same way. Dr. Natalie Shirley, assistant professor of anatomy at LMU-DCOM, was the featured speaker at the luncheon and she did a great job explaining how service can mean different things. She went on to tell her story of service.
Shirley, beyond being a brilliant professor and dedicated teacher, is a rising star in the world of forensic anthropology. Her area of expertise is skeletal maturation. She has studied in the world renowned University of Tennessee Anthropology Department and now serves the international community with her involvement in training forensic team in Columbia. She has spent a lot of time in Columbia teaching her counterparts her craft. It’s this work that she counts as her most valuable service to humanity.
Over 140 women from all walks of life came together to brainstorm about what the goals for the program will be. The thread that ran through most of the ideas was mentorship for LMU students. There were many different ways mentoring was suggested, but ultimately it came down to a group of professionals reaching out to the students and mentoring them.
As the group moves forward, the ideas will be fleshed out and a leadership team will be established. The group will next meet on December 1 in Harrogate.