Education - Page 7 - Business partners with higher education

- Page 7
Business partners with higher education
A focus on closing skill gaps in changing times

By Elizabeth Levy Malis, Contributing Writer

While not a new idea, partnerships between business and higher education come in many varieties. While internships and business advisory boards hold a valued place, fresh collaborations take center stage, too. Some business partnerships reduce tuition costs for students. Many provide to business an affordable way to close skill gaps within an industry. No matter the partnership, it’s a relationship that makes sense when it’s a win/win for both sides.

University of Baltimore Takes Cues from Business Landscape

At University of Baltimore (UB), business partnerships go back to its nascence. ”UB has never been separated from business. Founded in 1925, it was funded by business people,” says Murray Dalziel, dean of University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business.

Originally known as the College of Commerce, its mission remains “to serve the working men and women of Baltimore. We’ve always been a very career, professionally focused school. We are preparing students for careers,” says Dalziel.

He makes an analogy. “Try to imagine a medical school where someone has been trained in medicine without having any interaction with a patient. You probably wouldn’t go to that doctor.”

So UB turns to business – and visa versa. They partner through business advisory boards as well as internships. “We have always had a very heavy internship program with accounting firms, but since I have been here we’ve doubled the number of internships that we have,” says Dalziel, named dean in 2014.

“We use internships to engage the business community,” says Steven Isberg, professor of finance. “Over and over again we hear from business that it still needs people with communications skills as well as technical skills.”

Feedback from the business community shapes curriculum development at UB, where Dalziel interacts directly with a wide range of businesses through the school’s business advisory council. Plus, the university’s specialized programs have their own specific boards, too.

“We have a very active accounting board. In partnership with the local accounting industry, we discuss curriculum and host events. We have created specialized certificate programs in accounting in consultation with business. A certificate in federal government audit is in development at the moment. It’s an area with a big gap in Maryland. There’s little we would launch without sitting down and having a discussion with our business advisors,” says Dalziel.

Same thing when UB revised its MBA program in 2012. “Our business advisory council was activity involved,” says Isberg. “We look to our advisory boards for how we might create our curriculum to meet the needs of the business community.”

Those needs transform with changing times. “The Baltimore business landscape has changed dramatically in the 28 years I have been at UB,” says Isberg. “There used to be a lot of financial institutions and publicly traded companies in Baltimore. Today, there are not as many corporate headquarters, but there are small to mid-sized companies that have a lot of local focus. There’s a larger number of entrepreneurial type and technology companies, especially biotech.”

The new business landscape remains front and center. “For a business school, local business is our clientele. UB seeks to provide them with high quality human resources,” says Isberg.

“The number one need is talent,“ says Dalziel. “A wide range of business looks at UB as a source of talent. They look to us to find the right kind of talent – educated talent. What they particularly like about UB is that we are a source of diverse talent.”

He points to professional service firms. “Demographically there are more people retiring, or reaching retirement age, than there has been people entering the field. In the past, these firms have been dominated, frankly, by white males. Now, they are looking to diversify. UB is a great source for that. Our students offer not only diversity in terms of ethnicity and gender, but also in life experience. The average age of our undergraduate is 28. Eighty percent of them are working, at least part time. Fifty percent of our students work full time.”

Student William Pierre studies real estate and economic development at UB, which has distinguished itself as the only school to offer an undergraduate specialist program in real estate. While getting his degree, he runs Georgia Knights Management, a property management company. Now a senior, upon graduation, he plans to expand his company. Already, he’s got plans to develop property in Baltimore City.

Pierre didn’t start out in real estate. After serving in the military, he worked in retail management and banking before embarking on his current path. During his time at UB, he interfaced directly with business projects in the real world. In a global field study, he traveled to Ghana for an internship in a West African business.

Closer, to home, he completed a case study as part of an information systems class. “A local business came to our school, and presented our class with its employee workflow problem,” says Pierre, who joined a team of students to come up with a winning solution. His student group earned a top prize for their efforts.

Such examples of university/business collaboration “make everything you are learning more real, more relevant,” says Pierre. “It helps match what you are learning in class with what’s really happening in projects out in the community. It helped me focus my studies. It makes students

Partners, continued on page 8

Business keeps community colleges top of mind

Maryland’s community colleges remain more than a place to pick when it’s time to matriculate for college. Today, they appeal to the business community by offering partnership opportunities – specifically, when it comes to workforce training.

Although it’s not new that community colleges have offered contracted training with business, what’s new is the ease with which it can now be done. Established from a partnership between the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, an entity called Maryland Work Smart links the state’s 16 community colleges with local employers.

Maryland Work Smart launched last November. “It’s a one-stop shop,” says Kathleen Hebbel, associate director for Maryland Work Smart. “It’s one point of contact. I will get them to the right community college to work with – at a cost significantly less than private training. We want the community colleges to be top of mind – over private companies, or even four-year institutions – when employers are thinking of a training provider.”

Every community college location has a unit serving Maryland Work Smart. Carroll Community College (CCC)’s “Advantage C” provides an extensive menu of services to businesses. Libby Trostle, senior director of corporate services and workforce development, lists management and leadership development, customer service and sales training, and computer training as in demand. But that’s not all. “If a health care company needs their nurses to brush up on IV therapy techniques, we can provide that training. If it’s a technical skill – like welding – we provide training,” says Trostle. Soft skills, including interpersonal communication and conflict management increasingly get requested, too.

“We help prepare employees for changing technology and changing needs in their organization. We deliver services either at the employer’s site or here at the college,” says Trostle.

“Many synergies go along with having a local provider be the community college,” says Hebbel. “Businesses have confidence working with us. We’re a staple in their community,” says Trostle. “We’re not flying in from out of town, and gone tomorrow when they have a problem or need some follow up.” •