Getting to Know Lisa Menzies

By Nealy, Michelle J. | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, August 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

Getting to Know Lisa Menzies


Nealy, Michelle J., Diverse Issues in Higher Education


No one has to teach Lisa A. Menzies about the significance of the nation's 103 historically Black colleges and universities, and there is no need to remind her that these institutions produce some of the brightest students in the nation. As a former HBCU student, she already knows. That is why six years ago Menzies took a job with Johnson Controls Inc., a Fortune 100 engineering and sustainability firm, that allows her to link Black institutions with a company committed to preserving their rich legacies and illuminating their futures.

As director of national business development at Johnson Controls, Menzies builds partnerships with HBCUs and other minority-based entities planning to renovate existing infrastructure and create new buildings that are "greener" and more sustainable. Johnson Controls' core business is to supply nonresidential buildings with systems to control heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, security and fire management. Menzies also identifies other ways where Johnson Controls and minority-serving institutions can partner to empower students and local communities.

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During Menzies' tenure at thr firm, Johnson Controls has donated $100,000 to Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, to support education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2005, Johnson Controls presented former Johnson C. smith University President Dr. Dorothy Yancy with a $10,000 check to help fund the university's Saturday Academy project, a program in which JCSU students work with school-aged students. Last year, Johnson Controls donated $10,000 to Rust College in Mississippi to support the college's liberal arts program.

"We partner with HBCUs because a lot of them don't have the funds to actually do these types of things on their own," Menzies says. "We not only get work on their campuses, we hire their students, we offer internships and we have our corporate partners speak on their campuses. …

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