Collaboration is powerful in education

02/24/2012 9:51 AM

02/24/2012 9:51 AM

All of us understand the power of an education. The lives it shapes. The skill it gives. The community it builds.

In today’s world, our experience tells us that at its core, education must be affordable, it must be accessible and it must be flexible.

That is why I believe one of the more powerful movements in recent years among colleges and universities is that of collaboration. No longer can academic institutions perform in silos, working alone. The success of our students, our workforce and our communities demands willing cooperation, strategic coalitions and creative innovation.

This is at the heart of Butler. We are intentional in adapting to our region’s workforce, strategic in building partnerships and calculated in developing our programs and services.

Educational partnerships

One of our most proven educational partnerships comes in our BEST (Butler/Emporia Students to Teachers) program with Emporia State University. Specifically essential for place-bound and working students, BEST allows students to complete their associate degree at Butler and continue on to get their Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Emporia State without ever leaving the Butler campus. We have recently built upon this partnership by offering the same 2+2 agreement for business administration and information systems majors.

Butler has also developed transfer agreements with all of the four-year public and many private institutions in the state, allowing students to move seamlessly to the institution of their choice. One of the most innovative agreements has been with Newman University, enabling Butler students who choose Newman as their transfer institution to be co-advised from point of entry at Butler. Additionally, they are guaranteed a transfer scholarship upon graduation from Butler.

A truly transforming initiative has been our outreach to secondary education with our Early College academies. These remarkable partnerships not only give students an early start in college but, more importantly, provide intensive preparation for high-demand jobs in our communities – giving students with specific interests a jump-start on their careers. Our work with Rose Hill High School to establish our Early College Health Sciences Academy has been a testament of student success, with our entire initial class passing their CNA exam last semester. The academy housed at Circle High School allows juniors and seniors interested in the construction industry to earn an 18-credit-hour postsecondary certificate that is nationally certified.

The business side of collaboration

Butler believes it is necessary and essential to work closely with our region’s business and industry to ensure our program offerings are aligned with the workforce development needs of our region. We must also ensure our instructors understand the subject matter at its highest level so they can impart to our students experiences and knowledge based on real-world application.

One example of focusing on making certain our classroom instruction remains industry-relevant came this past summer as Butler’s lead composites technology instructor completed an internship with Leading Edge Aerospace. The takeaway skills related to resin transfer molding will tremendously enrich our students’ learning.

Butler’s Center for Workforce and Professional Advancement continues to forge Butler and workforce partnerships by helping organizations invest in their employees through training and education. What’s more, Butler now has access to the largest delivery network for corporate training by partnering with Global Corporate College (GCC) for regional, national and international workforce learning solutions. GCC leverages a network of member colleges and universities to help organizations achieve consistent, customized and accessible programs for employee development.

Together we will achieve

Through Visioneering Wichita, the College Mecca Alliance, a consortium of 21 institutions of higher education in south central Kansas, has rallied around the challenge of increasing our region’s college graduation rates by 1 percent in 2014. The alliance is charting new territory by conducting business as UNusual in terms of developing a collaborative system to reach this goal rather than relying upon the traditional competitive model. The “carrot” for doing so is eligibility for a $1 million grant for our region but the real prize comes in the form of a highly skilled workforce that ensures the economic well-being of our region for decades to come.

Effective collaboration, united around the promise that we will do the right things to ensure the success of our students, will inspire us to see all that can be achieved together. We must have the courage to be the first to lead along with the foresight to know when it’s our moment to stand in support.

At Butler, we’re excited to forge new pathways to student success. It’s our shared responsibility to create an educational system that is energizing and transforming, relevant and resolute. And to provide every student a dynamic education filled with vision, personality and power – pure learning power.

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