Senior Director of Business, Strategy, and Operations
What convinced you to join MBU? What made the opportunity so exciting?
When Will asked me if I’d like to become a key collaborator in an entrepreneurial organization at a really pivotal moment, I jumped at the opportunity to help create something new and different.
Mary Baldwin is at an inflection point in its history. It has both the institutional longevity — 180 years! — and size to be able to move quickly to establish itself as a preferred workforce partner. What that means is creating talent pipelines that will serve students by placing them in up-and-coming jobs, and benefit employers by filling a sorely needed gap in their workforce.
As an alum and former employee of a university with the nation’s largest co-op network, and having experience partnering with top companies to create talent solutions to support their next generation of leaders, I can attest there’s a critical gap between the way most higher-ed institutions prepare students for the workforce and what employers actually need. This leaves a wide open lane for a small, agile, fast-moving education provider like MBU to disrupt the status quo and take advantage of an untapped opportunity.
What do you think is going to be particularly special about taking classes through the new Palmer College?
Palmer College was intentionally founded to support workforce readiness. Our core demographic is working professionals who are juggling job responsibilities, family, and personal commitments in addition to classes. These students can often feel overwhelmed and forgotten in a traditional university setting — or worse, taken advantage of to turn a profit. Not only are we going to make sure that doesn’t happen, we’re going to make sure they’re getting an education that prepares and plugs them into the kinds of career opportunities that inspired them to go back to school in the first place.
… We’ve already commissioned and performed job market research specific to Virginia and identified some major opportunities. It’s helping us dig into current and ongoing trends — like the fact that about 65 percent of children entering kindergarten today will likely wind up working in jobs that don’t currently exist. That’s a staggering statistic! It means employers are already becoming desperate to find talent with relevant skills and experience, and the problem is projected to get worse as time goes on.
That’s where we come in. Right now, we’re simultaneously reimagining our portfolio of degrees and certificates, and changing the way we connect with students to support their academic success and professional development goals. We’re also starting to engage with employers in Virginia and surrounding regions to create opportunities to connect employers and students, and pivot toward the future of work.
How does that look? We’ve been — and will continue to be — extremely thoughtful in designing our degree programs to have real-life applications and emphasize connections to professional skills. We’re in the process of creating unique opportunities like internships for college credit, where learners will get a taste of working in their desired field while accelerating their trajectory toward graduation and developing cutting-edge skills that are highly marketable and highly in-demand.