Matrix Asked: How Do You Think Partnerships between Business and Colleges and Universities Affect Higher Education? (Conversations)

Article excerpt

Robert Roehrich
president
Colorado Tech University
Fort Collins

If one accepts the premise that the paradigm of higher education in the United States has shifted toward being more responsive to business and industry, then the effect of business partnerships on higher education is significant. Dynamic changes in the way businesses operate and compete in global and technologically driven environments have changed the way they interact with and respond to higher education. Businesses can no longer afford the luxury of waiting for graduates of conventional higher education to convert theory to practice, while the competition amasses profits and market share.

The fact is business needs more graduates who have an applications-focused education. Partnerships provide business and higher education with opportunities to engage in dialogue by identifying applications needs through content, delivery configurations, and assessment of outcomes to achieve desired business results.

Colorado Technical University, a proprietary, regionally accredited institution, through its mission has defined itself as an applied education institution by being responsive to the higher education requirements of business. In keeping with this applied focus, programs and curricula are designed collaboratively by business advisory committees and university faculty. Corporate education partnerships are established through several delivery configurations, on-campus corporate sponsorship of students, corporate on-site instruction of degree programs, professional certificates, online, and online/classroom hybrid instruction. Depending on the degree level of the partnership, undergraduate courses, including general education, are focused on pragmatic and applications requirements of the corporate sponsor. Quality and academic standards are maintained and provide students with highly creditable and applications-focused outcomes. Faculty, with appropriate academic credentials and demonstrated successful business experience, design and deliver "state-of-the-practice" curricula and maintain the applications orientation. Academic program reviews are coordinated by the academic vice president, program deans, and department chairs to ensure quality and integrity of the curricula and instruction, consistent with the intended objectives of the business partner. Through the use of partnerships, the effect on higher education at Colorado Technical University is increased curricular vitality, a stimulated and engaged faculty, and higher levels of graduate satisfaction.

Colorado Technical University, at three campuses, actively engages in corporate learning partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies, demonstrating the practicality and the benefits of these partnerships to both higher education and businesses.

Donald Langenberg
chancellor
University of Maryland System
Adelphi

In a word--positively. The benefits of partnerships between businesses and colleges and universities can be found in the new businesses, even whole new industries, that have sprung up near major research universities. In turn, the businesses provide research opportunities for faculty members, as well as career and research opportunities for students.

The importance of these partnerships is particularly evident in high-technology industries, those science-based industries whose products have above-average levels of R&D in their development. These firms tend to create new products or significantly increase market share, pay higher wages, and develop innovative processes that can be used in other industries. Their dependence on, and support for, university research create new opportunities for faculty and students, help finance up-to-date facilities and equipment, and highlight the university's contribution to the economic health of its region.

To support partnerships with businesses in Maryland, the University System of Maryland's 11 degree-granting institutions and two research institutes are working with state economic development leaders to create a statewide R&D plan to match USM capabilities with state economic needs; seeking state support for the establishment of a $50 million R&D fund, whose purpose would be to leverage promising USM research technologies and realize their full market potential; and examining internal research-related policies, to identify and modify all those that inhibit the development of partnerships with the private sector. …