NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Patricia Brewer Hairston has landed a “rare” opportunity to give back to her alma mater. The 1977 graduate of Tennessee State University, an executive at Corning Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company, will be working at TSU for one year as an “executive-on-loan” funded by Corning.
As the Corning executive-on-loan, Hairston will work closely with TSU leadership to advance the goals of the Supply Chain Management Program and other leadership initiatives at the institution. “This is an opportunity that I cherish,” Hairston said. “I always wanted to give back to Tennessee State University, and this is certainly a way to do so in a more meaningful way.”
Hairston, director of Global Transportation and Trade Compliance at Corning, currently chairs the TSU Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board, a leadership group of nine leading Fortune 500 companies that collaborate and work with the University to review curriculum, lead research, and develop students for future leadership in supply chain management. She has been a member of the board since 2006.
TSU President, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, called Corning “a forward-thinking company” for assigning Hairston to TSU where she can have a direct impact on the development of future supply chain management professionals. “We are thrilled to see her return to us so capable and a more strengthened graduate with a level of technical and executive expertise that can only be helpful to Tennessee State University,” she said.
According to Hairston, Corning, the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics, has already hired two TSU students and hires interns from the supply chain program annually. “I appreciate the support of Corning for its foresight and the partnership with Tennessee State University, which is ensuring that TSU graduates are well trained and ready for the workforce. We see the supply chain management program as a pipeline to recruit the best and brightest from this university, and I am glad to be a part of this effort.”
Hairston, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Architectural and Civil Engineering from TSU, said her assignment has been a “valuable” experience that has given her the opportunity to reconnect with her alma mater. She was particularly thankful to Dr. Festus Olorunniwo, chair of the Department of Business Administration at TSU, for his effort in getting her back to TSU.
“We first met at a supply chain conference,” Hairston said. “When he realized that I was a TSU graduate, he invited me to join the Supply Chain Board, which I did not give much thought to at the time, but he insisted and followed up with calls and I finally agreed to join. Since then, I have attended every board meeting except for two because of previously planned engagements. Overall, this has been a very rewarding experience.”
Dr. Olorunniwo described Hairston as “an experienced and dedicated professional with a strong commitment” to give back to TSU. “As chair, she has ably led the body in ensuring the growth of this program, and has helped in proving internship and job placement opportunities for our supply chain students,” he said.
Hairston, who will also work with the president of TSU in an advisory capacity, has received high commendation from the Vice President of University Relations and Development, Dr. William Nelsen, with whom she has been working closely. “TSU is very fortunate to have an executive of her caliber and qualification to be assigned to this institution,” he said. “We look forward to her leadership on important projects that would advance this university.”
At Corning, where she has been since 1999, the TSU-trained engineer has held several key positions, including director of International Procurement and Transportation, leading and facilitating the growth of Corning’s outsourced manufacturing capability in Asia. Before that she served as director of Global Strategic Sourcing, where she led a $3.1 billion company spending initiative, while instituting other cost-cutting measures. Prior to joining Corning, Hairston worked for Westinghouse as manager of international procurement, commodity centers manager, and as the IT procurement manager.
Hairston is in her third year as chair of the Tennessee State University Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board. The Mobile, Ala., native is married to Robert J. Hairston. They have five children.