Managing External Partnership Expectations: A Model for Collaboration for Online Program Growth

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learn and share valuable tips and leadership strategies to manage expectations as your institution investigates or implements scalable online programs with an external partner. This interactive presentation will identify some of the common pitfalls and recommended solutions of working with various partner entities to grow your online programs.


Kristine Pruett, Ed.D. directs the Office of Technology for Teaching and Learning and manages state authorization at Wilkes University. Kristine has her master’s degree in instructional technology and doctorate of educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration from Wilkes University. Previous roles include assistant to the vice president for Strategic Initiatives, assistant to the dean in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, and director of operations for the graduate education department. Her expertise is in new program development and implementation, project management, partnership development, new site development and launch, accreditation and state authorization, assessment and online program management and scalability. Kristine has presented on various technology topics at state and national conferences.
Karena Brace is the Director of Program Operations for Graduate Education at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Her focus is on partnerships, marketing, and program development. She has coordinated master’s degrees in Instructional Media and Online Teaching and has presented at several conferences on the topics of mobile technology, social media, and online learning. She is a current doctoral student at Northeastern University with a concentration in higher education administration.

Extended Abstract

Partnering with external organizations has become more common in higher education. Partnerships may include professional organizations, school districts, and online program management vendors. Developing strategic partnerships is one model of program innovation and growth for online programs. However, these partnerships can quickly dissolve or become strained if not well developed. Organizations external to higher education and individuals not familiar with the culture and processes within higher education are often befuddled once these partnerships take shape. Specific areas of challenge may include anything from the process for new program and course development, the role of full-time faculty in scalable online programs/courses, communication, accreditation issues, state authorization, data collection requirements, and implementing multiple learning management platforms. Higher education leaders must manage the expectations of these external partners and often educate them as to the why’s and how’s of moving new online programs through the internal pipeline.


Wilkes University has a long history of external partnerships with online programs to meet the needs of specific populations and as a means to grow and sustain enrollment. Presenters will share their personal experiences and strategies for developing long-lasting, successful partnerships with external organizations.


Participants in this session will learn:

·      How to effectively develop external partnerships,

·      Best practices for collaborative program oversight,

·      Strategies for managing expectations,

·      How to ensure compliance with external regulations,

·      Strategies for successful online program launch.


Interactive technologies will be utilized during the presentation to engage the audience in the discussion and gauge the experience level of the participants with the topic. Participants will be asked to share their experiences working with partner organizations and how they have navigated various leadership challenges. Positive dialogue around solutions will be encouraged so that all can benefit. Presentation slides will be provided to attendees and posted on the conference web site.