Northeast Maryland Benefits From Academic Partner
Institutions of higher learning – especially those with a definitive bent toward career preparation and training – actively seek the input and advice of the business community. After all, the business leaders are the ones doing the hiring and know firsthand what the workforce needs are, so an active partnership between these businesses and the universities teaching and preparing young adults is ideal. Likewise, businesses can turn to universities for workforce training needs to better equip their employees to flourish in their jobs and help ensure success for all. This sort of collaborative engagement between businesses and academia is just what University Center (www.ucresourcecenter.com) is actively creating in northeastern Maryland.
University Center is regarded as the epicenter of education, business resources, training and technology along the I-95 corridor in northeastern Maryland. It is a campus community comprised of leading universities and conference facilities providing students and professionals with opportunities to cost effectively earn their degrees and advance their careers.
Dean Kaster, senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH), says that the hospital has had a great partnership for many years with University Center. “We estimate that about 500 team members from UM UCH have taken courses at University Center to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. Most of our team members are working full time and many have families, so to have that opportunity here in Harford County is of great service to us and an added motivation for our team members,” Kaster says.
University Center Director Nancy Spence is passionate about how to “better serve businesses in northeast Maryland through higher education and meeting the training and other business needs of the community. We are positioning ourselves as the ‘go-to’ resource for businesses,” she says.
One of the ways University Center will engage businesses in order to foster collaboration is an interactive business exchange on Sept. 18 called “Business Horizons 2.0” (BH2.0). Spence says that the goal is for University Center to fully understand the unique and specific needs of businesses in northeastern Maryland. University Center has invited representatives from key industries to participate in the forum. “We want to bring key business leaders together to discuss what their needs are. We will also have a panel of industry leaders to provide perspective based on the core businesses that make up our business community and a moderator to facilitate,” Spence says. “We want this to be a very productive discussion to increase participation by all and an interactive dialogue on what businesses are concerned with and what they need.”
Although it will be a diverse mix of industries at the event, Spence says that she anticipates that there will be commonality across all disciplines. “We will have businesses that represent the private sector, construction, education, health, finance, hospitality, manufacturing, professional services, information and technology, government, natural resources, and trade and transportation,” Spence says. “However, the topics of discussion can relate to any business. How can you increase your bottom line? How do you forge synergetic partnerships? How do you attract and retain employees? How do you provide education and training that is affordable and useful?”
Spence adds that some of the attendees already utilize University Center for meetings and employee training, but she hopes to learn further what services University Center can provide. “For example, some businesses already utilize University Center’s facility for in-house training, but we can also facilitate contract training through our university partners and independent companies. We hope to make businesses aware of all the opportunities that are available to them to help their bottom line and improve their business,” she says.
“Especially in this economy, all businesses are concerned with their bottom line and are reluctant to spend money on employee training, for example, in order to make money. We want to work with them and better understand how they can spend their dollars wisely,” Spence says.
Kaster adds that every year UM UCH uses University Center to send its senior leadership offsite to work on the Annual Operating Plan. “We find it beneficial to send our senior leaders off our campus so that they can work on this plan uninterrupted. Also, the quality of the meeting rooms and the technology – Smart Boards, White Boards, A/V equipment – is fantastic,” he says. “Also, our information services department is transitioning many of our leadership team from laptops to Ultrabooks (a hybrid between a laptop and tablet), so we utilize University Center to orient them to this new technology.”
In addition to the “Business Horizons 2.0” event, University Center is also hosting a careers connection event on Jan. 15, 2015. “We want to bring together current and prospective students of University Center and members of the business community to discuss in-demand careers and business trends with a local angle specific to northeast Maryland. Many times, business and careers trends reported are national and may not coincide with what is happening here,” Spence says.
Additionally, to assist students, most of whom are also juggling a full-time job, University Center is also launching “concierge services” this fall. Some of the planned elements include online tutoring, success coaching, food services, textbooks available on campus instead of students having to travel to their home institution, and networking events that are career specific.
Spence says that University Center is also planning on upgrading its technological elements. “We want students to be able to bring in their iPad, for example, and collaborate in real time. We also want to be able to host more web-based meetings so that individuals who cannot physically attend can still participate,” she says.
For more information on University Center’s business resources, please contact Nancy Spence at 443-360-9200. To reserve training or meeting space: www.ucresourcecenter.com/reserve-a-room/. Register today for University Center’s Business Horizon’s 2.0: www.ucresourcecenter.com/bh2-registration/