It’s no surprise that Troy University is constantly seeking new partners in and around its community to help facilitate the growth of the institution. The word “partner” is limitless when it comes to university involvement. However, when most of us think about University partners, we tend to think of partnering academically or financially. Donors are important partners as they provide financial support to help the growth of Troy University worldwide. Sponsors are crucial partners in supporting scholarships, research, equipment, and academic program development. Learning partners, like the University of Pisa, allow students to expand their knowledge and cultural experience. The list of partnerships that are vital to Troy’s success goes on and on.
Troy University’s Corporate Partnership Program, introduced in 2013, has not always been in the partner spotlight, but it is an expanding opportunity for various organizations to get involved with Troy without a financial commitment. The program allows businesses, health systems, school districts, municipalities, and professional associations to offer employees unique opportunities for educational enhancement and career advancement at an affordable rate. This program is unique in that it’s goal is to bring non-traditional students, often working adults in the midst of their careers, to TROY to further their education. When an organization partners with TROY, the University offers a 10% tuition scholarship to full-time employees who meet admissions requirements. Participating organizations in turn collaborate with TROY by acting as an advocate or promoter of TROY and recruiting TROY students and recent grads for work experience when applicable.
Just as Troy needs external partners to create and fund new programs, external organizations need Troy to be a learning partner for their employees and/or members. “Working adults need some incentive, some push, to encourage them to start classes, whether they have finished their undergraduate degree and are going into a graduate degree or life happens and they had to pause their undergraduate classes and need to complete them,” explained Staci Hutto, Corporate Partner Coordinator for Troy University. The partnership program is meant to be an opportunity for organizations to enhance their benefits packages and encourage employees to reach their educational goals through one of Troy’s many degree programs.
Troy currently has 142 corporate partners located in various parts of the country, including Georgia, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, and more. Some partners are national organizations that reach audiences throughout the entire United States. For example, one of Troy’s first corporate partners was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which employees over 79,000 people throughout the United States. Another national organization, Blacks in Government, believes a partnership with TROY will help them meet their goals and objectives, which include concepts like advocating equal opportunity employment, eliminative racial discrimination, promoting professionalism, and more. “TROY allowed us an educational opportunity to help our members with career progression, professional development, and on-the-job success,” said Mazella Thomas, Corporate Sponsorship Committee Chair.
Chambers of Commerce are popular corporate partners, as the goals of the program typically align with the goals of a chamber. Troy works with chambers throughout the southeast, but some of the newest chamber partners are housed in the backyard of the University’s main Troy campus. The Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, a large chamber of over 1,000 members, signed a corporate partnership agreement with Troy in the spring of 2019. “In Vestavia Hills, we value education, as is evidenced by our school system, which encourages lifelong learning for every citizen,” said Karen Odle, President/CEO of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce. “This partnership will only enhance that effort. It will help our businesses by making college more affordable for employees striving to advance their career or for employees looking for advanced educational degrees.” The Pike County Chamber of Commerce has always been a friend of TROY in many ways, but Dana Sanders, President, decided to become an official corporate partner this past summer, allowing full-time employees of Chamber members a 10% tuition scholarship when they are accepted into one of TROY’s degree programs.
Over the past several months, Troy University staff has been working on improving the Corporate Partnership Program in ways that will promote highly collaborative and engaging relationships between the University and its corporate partners. One way TROY is doing this is by providing partners with additional resources that will be relevant to their organizational success. “We are working to enhance benefits, build processes that allow more program customization to meet individual partner needs, enhance partner access to web resources, and involve more on-campus staff to allow more collaborative opportunities,” said Hutto.
Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Walter Givhan, has a strong vision for the program. “Our goal is to grow robust relationships that truly serve our partners, which requires constant engagement and reevaluation of our partners’ needs. We want to equip them with the academic degrees and life-long training they need to boost organizational performance and develop human capital. We also aim to get our partners involved with serving TROY students through their offerings of internships, mentoring, advisory boards, and other opportunities that will strengthen academic quality and career development,” explain Givhan.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management, Buddy Starling, believes the program is essential to recruiting adult learners. “The corporate partnership program is a valuable and important part of enrollment management. We want non-traditional students to trust that TROY has a program that will help them reach their goals and a learning format that fits their schedule. Strengthening the workforce by equipping employees with one of TROY’s numerous degree programs is a big part of our mission,” said Starling.TROY’s corporate partnership program is a mutually beneficial opportunity for just about any organization that is willing to have a working relationship with the University. Engagement from corporate partners allows a full circle of collaboration that involves affordable professional development from TROY’s degree programs, student and recent grad recruitment and mentorship from partners, and an open door to future joint endeavors.