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Corporate partnerships: strategic alliances are all "win-win" for universities and business.

"THE NOTION OF THE university as a moated castle unto itself is just not the right one for effective organizations in the 21st century," says Brad Wheeler, vice president for information technology and CIO for Indiana University. "I think about the university being more involved in a highly connected ecosystem of purposeful relationships, because that is the only way you can learn and adapt at the speed required for this century."

Strategic alliances between higher education and business are stronger and more important than ever before. Here is a look at some innovative initiatives around the state that benefit the schools, the students, the business partners and the communities.

Indiana University, Bloomington. Strategic alliances born of necessity can yield extraordinary opportunities with a dash of creative thinking. When a move to high definition video was mandated for the production studios of Indiana University by 2009, the search began for a vendor to supply the necessary equipment.

"We changed our philosophy partway through from thinking about just solving a problem to embracing a greater opportunity," Wheeler says. "What surfaced was Sony also had a keen interest in understanding a place like Indiana University where we constantly have a new generation of 'digital natives' coming in as freshmen and faculty and scholars that are retooling some of their work for newer media. It became clear there was an alignment of capabilities between what Indiana had to offer and what was of interest to Sony and vice versa."


As a result, a three-part strategic alliance was established--buying HD equipment at favorable pricing via a non-exclusive university-wide agreement, a series of research projects and a 10 percent discount on most Sony products for the IU community of faculty, staff and students.

The agreements also establish a framework for future projects. For example, Sony might try out new technology with a group of students or the university might conduct a controlled study about how groups use new emerging technology.

"The key thing for us is really bringing together two very capable organizations," says Wheeler, who is also a professor in the Kelley School of Business. "Sony has a worldwide reputation for their ability to innovate across a range of products and devices and bring them quickly to market. IU has a large community of right at 100,000 students and about 15,000 faculty and staff that are thinking and using those kinds of products and services. An alignment of shared goals, mutual interests and the ability to execute is the strength of any alliance."

Purdue University, West Lafayette. Purdue University has strategic relationships with 35 companies that hire students, provide funding and partner on research opportunities. One example is the university's relationship with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Company More than 1,200 Purdue alumni work for the pharmaceutical company and it also provides internships and research and fellowship opportunities. Lilly partners with many different schools at Purdue, including the pharmacy, engineering, management, computer science, technology, agriculture and veterinary medicine programs. "There's probably no place on campus they don't touch," says Pam Ritter, senior director of corporate relations.

Along with other companies, Lilly supports Purdue's K-12 Science Bound Program and Lilly employees mentor students. Developed for Indianapolis Public Schools, Science Bound encourages students to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to help "build the pool" for the future. Lilly also works closely with Purdue's School of Pharmacy Chao Center. Lilly gave its patent for Seromycin, an antibiotic that cures multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), to the center, which will be the sole manufacturer for the United States. Purdue will also manufacture the vaccine and distribute it to third-world countries, as well as train locals how to manufacture the medicine for themselves.

Faculty receive research opportunities from the corporate partnerships, but Ritter says the main benefit of the strategic relationships is that Purdue students receive a wonderful education and corporations recognize that and hire them. "It a win-win for both of us," she says.

Ball State University, Muncie. Ball State University's success with "Digital Middletown," a pioneering project in 2005 that delivered high-bandwidth wireless network to two rural Indiana elementary schools and the surrounding homes, laid the groundwork for further wireless testing. During the Digital Middletown venture, the university tested the educational impact of a range of multimedia content delivered over the network, as well as analyzing the network's technical capabilities.

Ball State joined forces with Gateway, the Discovery Channel and Alvarion. The Discovery Channel provided the educational programming and media contacts; Gateway donated 19 laptop computers, one desktop computer and one plasma screen to each school; Alvanon provided wireless technology and Ball State provided equipment to the schools, as well as training and the expertise of the 18-person muhidisciplinary team led by Dr. Bizhan Nasseh, assistant vice president for information technology

Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis. "We do customized training based on companies' needs," says Susan Brooks, IW Tech senior vice president, Workforce & Economic Development. "We'll do it at 10 p.m. at their workplace or we'll do it at our site. It is all very fluid. We also work with the state to lure businesses to Indiana, like Medco [Health Solutions], the pharmaceutical Distribution company in Lebanon. We provide training for their transportational logistics folks and their pharmacy technicians. We are often part of the package that the state uses to entice companies to locate here."

Specialized training is at the core of Ivy Tech's Workforce & Economic Development department and state grants often pay for such training. The school has a staff of more than 200 account planners who develop and expand relationships with organizations all over the state.

University of Southern Indiana, Evansville. "At the Center for Applied Research, we do projects large and small for companies ranging from an Alcoa, to a Toyota, to small, startup organizations, leveraging our faculty to help them do applied research and consulting," says Dr. Susan Ellstermann, director of the Center for Applied Research. The fee-based center provides its services at a "fraction of the cost" compared to Chicago or New York firms.

For example, when searching for an environmentally responsible way to store a new product, Alcoa utilized the services of Dr. Paul Doss, a certified geologist with the university, who provided third-party oversight for the project. Doss suggested additional storage and testing methods and answered questions at community meetings.

Habitat for Humanity requested that the center conduct a study about the impact the 300 homes it has built in the Evansville region had made. Besides the economic impact on the community, the three-prong study looks at the impact on the families living in the homes and the impact on the neighborhoods in which the homes are located. USI students participated in the survey design and analysis and the interview process.

The center also helped Middletown-based e-biofuels LLC with biodiesel testing when the company was starting up and later helped the company open its own lab.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The School of Dentistry, with the help of the purchasing department, negotiated a good price for Fujitsu tablet computers, as well as a four-year warranty More versatile and convenient than laptops, the tablets are loaded with software needed by students at the School of Dentistry and configured before students receive them.

Technology staff at the School of Dentistry received training from Fujitsu so they can manage their own Fujitsu support center on campus. "This is really a big plus for the School of Dentistry," says Claudette Canzian, associate director of purchasing services for IUPUI. "They also have a 24-hour turnaround so they can expedite parts and those parts are shipped directly to them." Tablets are available for purchase to all campus faculty and students.

A partnership among AT&T, the School of Nursing and the purchasing department is in the works to provide a simulation lab where students will practice their nursing skills on "dummies." It will be equipped with live electronic feeds enabling faculty and others to monitor and review the mockups.

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. In September 2006, Sean Ryan, director of the engagement office at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, met with representatives from Fort Wayne-based Lincoln Financial Group, the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. "My role as director of engagement is to try to find opportunities and develop mutually beneficial collaborations between businesses and organizations in our region and one of three higher education partners in my office--IPFW, Purdue and IU," he says.

Retirement planning is a huge industry that is facing one of its biggest challenges as Baby Boomers begin to retire in large numbers. The group wanted support for the training and credentialing of pension professionals, the development of a regional talent pool of trained pension professionals and the creation of economic development opportunities. The capability to do research and expand knowledge in the field seemed to be a logical fit. Last October IPFW's Institute for Pension Plan Management was founded to meet all those needs and more.

The institute will train pension professionals nationwide via distance learning classes that are slated to begin this fall. Future plans call for the institute to create a certificate program for undergraduates. "They will come out ready to hit the ground running," says institute director Geralyn Miller. Companies will not have to provide as much training as they do now in order to bring new hires up to snuff. Our member companies will have first access to the newly graduating students who have these certificates.

"The institute positions us as a national leader in this area," Miller says. "It is the first time on the North American continent that anyone has coupled research and training for this particular industry."

Indiana State University, Terre Haute. For about 20 years Indiana State University has enjoyed a strong relationship with State Farm Insurance. The company funds scholarships for ISU's management information systems (MIS) and insurance and risk programs within the College of Business and ISU students enjoy internship opportunities with State Farm. The company also assists ISU in making high school students aware of MIS as a career and in promoting ISU's MIS program. In return, State Farm benefits from being able to recruit and hire ISU students at the top of their field.

"State Farm is backed by caring individuals who go the extra mile for our students, and not just monetarily," says Mary Ann Boose, program coordinator and professor of insurance and risk management at Indiana State. "They offer students opportunities for experiential learning, provide scholarships that attract academically tenanted students to our nationally recognized programs and they donate countless hours to the university by serving as mentors, Insurance Advisory Council members and in other vital roles."
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Title Annotation:EDUCATION
Author:Held, Shari
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Feb 1, 2008
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