Nov 152011
 
Authors: Colleen Canty

CSU will see the face of its multi-million dollar partnership with Coca-Cola Wednesday, with the anticipated arrival of the company’s CEO, Muhtar Kent.

Kent will be speaking in the Lory Student Center’s main ballroom at noon, touching on the topic of his company’s and CSU’s shared values regarding a sustainable future.

The company, which recently entered into a 10-year partnership with the university, announced scholarship and internship funding for the Water Scholars Program in October, involving CSU and East China Normal University.

The program, synthesizing CSU and ECNU’s particular expertise in water issues and Coca-Cola’s pursuit of sustainable business practices, represents the common values shared among the universities and the company.

“At Colorado State, we have a particular focus on water stewardship and conservation – the lifeblood of our business – through the new Beverage Business Institute,” said Amr Kora, regional sales vice president for Foodservice and On-Premise Coca-Cola Refreshments in the Northwest Region. “We will be working with the university to train future leaders about sustainable business practices in our industry.”

As the CEO of a company that boasts more than 500 product brands and sells 1.7 million servings per day in more than 200 countries, Kent’s speech has been eagerly anticipated by the university – in particular the College of Business.

“This speech has been in the works for months now as an outgrowth of our partnership with the company,” said a dean in the College of Business John Hoxmeier. “It is a unique opportunity; it’s not everyday the CEO of the No. 1 beverage brand in the world comes to speak to students. This is a one-time thing.”

While the event is open to the public, and members of the Fort Collins community are expected to attend, Kent’s message will be most fervently targeting students.

“We appreciate the opportunity to engage directly with our partners, customers and consumers in the communities we serve,” Kora said, “especially with the next generation of students who will be leaders in growing businesses sustainably around the world.”

Effects of the partnership have already been noted on campus, including “internship opportunities and funding benefits,” according to Hoxmeier. Visibly, these changes have manifested themselves in paper cups and large red boxes seen around campus, much to some students’ satisfaction.

“I’ve seen Pepsi’s contract with the school, and they didn’t treat us well,” said Rachael Schrader, a senior political science and human development and family studies major who plans to attend Kent’s speech. “We are a green university, and I want to see how Coca-Cola can actually get some green in there.”

Collegian writer Colleen Canty can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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