Innovative design needed in p’ships post-pandemic
Designing strategic post-pandemic partnerships requires novel approaches, said stakeholders during a discussion on the new landscape – particularly in Asia, Africa, and LATAM.
During the pandemic, university partnerships were forced to undergo significant restructuring, moving away from traditional models. At The PIE Live Europe, two US leaders in partnership development discussed further.
“The pandemic prompted a shift in our peer relationships as we discussed our common problems and potential solutions collaboratively and compassionately,” South Dakota State University assistant vice president for international affairs, Jon Stauff, told The PIE News.
“New players and products appeared in the industry and disrupted our customary approaches to partnership development,” he continued.
Stauff asserted that the new tools presented leaders in IE an opportunity “to create new and inclusive networks to support partnerships” and also expand institutions’ “global footprints”.
Co-presenter, Jill Blondin, associate vice provost for global initiatives at Virginia Commonwealth University, agreed.
“It is incumbent for universities to be strategic in the way we approach partnership development post-pandemic,” she told The PIE after the session.
She said this calls for asking “not what we can do, but what we should do” to increase student, faculty and staff’s global engagement.
Such discussions led the pair to embrace innovative approaches to their current partnerships and to the development of new collaborations, such as enrolment funnels, research collaboration, and short-term and virtual options.
“We have a strong academic division at our institution, so our previous partnerships were mostly academic and stayed in their lane but the VCU vice president of research saw an opportunity – and understood the significant role that research plays in student enrolment and recruitment,” Blondin explained.
Being able to narrate both the academic and the research ‘sides of the house’ produces myriad opportunities for students and future research, she claimed.
When the global initiatives division partnered with the vice president of research, it enabled VCU to better tell their story about their achievements worldwide and provided more opportunities to tell those stories.
“Our previous partnerships were mostly academic… but [we] saw an opportunity in research”
She also highlighted an innovative approach to partnership through VCU’s da Vinci Centre for Innovation promoting student entrepreneurship.
“These programs, including those with Lego and Bank of America, demonstrate the relevance between corporation and academic and they promote employability, which is key to student recruitment,” she said.
“With a careful international strategy… all partners can be victors and we can bring new options abroad”
Like VCU, SDSU is deeply engaged with global corporate partners. Stauff noted that given the suburban location of the university, many of their partners are leaders in precision agriculture and smart faming.
“It encompasses the intersection of IT, agriculture, and engineering and this collaboration engages and attracts not only local students, including students from Native American populations from the region, but also international students.”
While Blondin promoted “early, easy wins” for institutions keen to explore partnership creation and expansion, she also advised thought and intention.
“We recognise that it is through cooperation and collaboration that we will find solutions to global problems and challenges,” she noted.
Stauff also suggested delegates cast a wide net in considering the faculty and staff who may best champion specific partnerships from the university side.
“Don’t be shy about saying, ‘who else in your office might we talk to about this?’ if you don’t have the correct person right away.
“With a careful international strategy supporting this work, all partners can be victors and we can bring new options abroad to our students and colleagues on campus,” Stauff added.