As Columbia International University celebrated the naming of its business school, Mike Crapps reflected on the benefits of partnering with the private Christian university with nearly 2,400 students.
“Our bank has a very strategic partnership here and it’s really focused on education, learning, developing our people, developing our leaders now and in the future,” Crapps, president and CEO of First Community Bank, told the Columbia Regional Business Report. “It’s within the value system that we have as a bank. Our culture lines up, our beliefs line up.”
The First Community Bank Leadership Institute, now in its third year, was developed in partnership with CIU, which plays hosts to organization meetings and its graduation ceremony and the college’s Monticello Road campus. Eight to 10 participants complete the 15- to 18-month class combining academic and experiential learning.
“The people that have come through that program have just grown so immensely, and the beauty of it is, not just learning leadership content but learning it in the context of Christian values,” Crapps said.
On Oct. 7, CIU celebrated the official christening of the John and Lyn Cook School of Business, named for the owners of America’s eighth-largest pest control company who have a long-time relationship with the school. Lyn Cook has served on the CIU board of trustees for 12 years, while John Cook is a 1972 graduate of Ben Lippen School, CIU’s pre-K to 12th grade school.
“Our family has always been a giving family, especially to Christian ministries. I’ve served on the CIU board for 12 years now, so this is where my heart is,” Lyn Cook said. “My husband is a graduate of Ben Lippen. We just totally support this school and its mission and so we wanted to give back, plus we’re business people. … Helping provide jobs is very rewarding.”
Scott Adams, dean of the John and Lyn Cook School of Business, said the naming puts the school of business, CIU’s largest undergraduate major, on footing similar to other area business schools, such as the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
“We’re really proud,” Adams said before Lyn Cook addressed a crowd which included current business school students. “She (Lyn Cook) was able to see the impact this school was making in the community, not only here locally but what we were doing internationally. Our graduates are working in 150 countries around the world. That’s significant.”
Cook’s Pest Control, with 40 locations in Georgia, Alabama, Tennesse and Florida, has been in business for more than 90 years and has earned the International Torch Award for Ethics from the Better Business Bureau. The Cooks donated an undisclosed amount to CIU.
“It’s humbling and honoring, and we’re just very thankful that we could do this to help the school,” Lyn Cook said.
Earlier this month, CIU announced an enrollment of 2,373, largest in its nearly 100-year history. That includes 919 residential and online undergraduate and 1,454 graduate/seminary students. CIU ranked No. 11 in the South on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Value for Regional Universities list for 2022.
“The people graduating from the school of business here are great candidates to come work for First Community,” Crapps said. “The education and the things they’ve learned here and the way it’s taught here just matches up perfectly. And in today’s world where labor shortages are talked about often, having this relationship with CIU is really helping us.”