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Founder of TOMS Shoes to Give 2011 Shilling Lecture

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    Blake Mycoskie (left) received the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) presented by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The award celebrates companies’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation, exemplary practices and democratic values worldwide.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Blake Mycoskie to visit campus March 8 

Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur with a socially responsible business model, will give the 2011 Shilling Lecture at Southwestern University. The lecture will be held Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater and is titled “The New Rules for Tomorrow’s Business: A Student’s Guide to Making a Difference in the World.”

Mycoskie’s company, TOMS Shoes, donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. Mycoskie got the idea for TOMS Shoes shortly after competing on the second season of “The Amazing Race.” While visiting Argentina, Mycoskie was compelled by the sight of children playing in their bare feet because their families could not afford shoes. He returned to Argentina in 2006 and came up with a plan to found a for-profit business with a non-profit goal: to give a pair of shoes to every child that lacks this basic necessity.

The goal of TOMS Shoes is not only to give shoes, but to emphasize the importance of wearing shoes to prevent disease. Podoconiosis, or “mossy foot,” is a fungal disease transmitted though soil that debilitates the lymphatic system and threatens the health of up to 1 billion people worldwide.

In 2008, TOMS started “One Day Without Shoes” in which people are asked to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes, barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand. More than 250,000 people participated in the event last year. This year’s event will be held on April 5-6.

A non-profit subsidiary called Friends of TOMS coordinates employee and volunteer-led shoe drops around the world. The company has donated more than 600,000 pairs of shoes to children in the United States and abroad since 2006.

A native of Texas, Mycoskie attended high school in Arlington and Austin and received his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. TOMS Shoes is based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The Shilling Lecture Series at Southwestern University was established in 1999 by The Brown Foundation Inc. of Houston to honor Southwestern’s 13th president, Roy B. Shilling Jr., and his wife, Margaret. The series brings to campus internationally prominent speakers on topics relating to ethics, public service and public policy. Past speakers include Bill Foege, Wangari Maathai, Bill Bradley, James Baker III, Thomas Kean, Benazir Bhutto, Desmond Tutu, Bill Moyers, President Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright Edelman, William Sloane Coffin, John McGuire and Karen Hughes.

Tickets for the 2011 Shilling Lecture are sold out, but simulcast viewing for overflow seating will be available in the Jones Theater and in Olin 105. Students, faculty and staff
who reserved tickets must pick them up between Feb. 22 and March 1 on the 2nd floor of Mundy Hall or they will be released.

All campus tickets must be picked up between Feb. 22 and March 1 on the 2nd floor of Mundy Hall or they will be released. Simulcast viewing for overflow seating will take place in the Jones Theater.

Pre-lecture Events

Several events have been scheduled in advance of the lecture. On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Student Foundation is sponsoring a “Style Your Sole Party” in which students will have the opportunity to decorate their TOMS shoes. Photos of the customized shoes will be displayed during the Shilling Lecture. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in Bishops Lounge, McCombs Campus Center. “One for One: The TOMS Shoes Documentary” will run continuously throughout the party. 

On Monday, Feb. 28, Political Science Professor Tim O’Neill will facilitate a multidisciplinary, faculty- led salon titled “Notions of Doing ‘Good.” Joey King ’93, an entrepreneur, executive director of NITLE and Southwestern’s vice president for innovation, will advocate for social entrepreneurship; Fred Sellers, associate professor of business, will advocate for free markets with little to no government intervention; and  Christina Wisdom ’97, a political lobbyist, will advocate for government as a necessary entity for regulating behavior and caring for our most vulnerable populations. Several Southwestern students will advocate for the role of civic engagement by every citizen to anchor perspectives in larger philosophical schools of thought. The event will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Atrium of Mood-Bridwell Hall. It was organized by Business Professor Mary Grace Neville.

On Wednesday, March 2, entrepreneur Jose Alejandro Flores, founder of VOS Flips, will speak to his organization’s simple question, “Can people afford to care?” In addition to donating a pair of flips for each pair sold, VOS Flips also provides health care and education to the rubber-producing communities that cultivate the raw materials for their products. The presentation will begin at 4 p.m. in the Lynda Ballroom, McCombs Campus Center.

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