OPM 2.0: Considerations for Building OPM Partnerships and Ensuring Workforce Readiness for the Non-traditional Learner

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

In today's global economy, corporations and higher education must come together to ensure students are workforce ready. Focus EduSolutions will be joined by two institutional partners to share insights into building successful OPM and workforce readiness initiatives – what worked, what didn’t, lessons learned, and how those lessons strengthened partnerships.


Vik Aurora comes with over 26 years of proven cross-functional leadership experience in the education management industry. As a first-generation entrepreneur and at the age of 20, Vik started his career in the education industry and had never looked back. He has a multi-domain experience and has worked in information technology, human resource assessment with a particular concentration in behavioral competency based retention and e-learning. Vik always thinks Big and believes in leading teams by example. In his dictionary, Nothing is impossible as long as there are clear goals that need to be accomplished. He comes across as a strategic thinker and a tactical executionist and has built strategic alliances and strong relationships with the major stakeholders in the education industry. Vik has an MBA in Global Business and Leadership from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
Dr. Joy Henrich has served as a higher education professional since 2003. She resides in central Wisconsin and is currently the Dean of Graduate Education for Rasmussen College, a role in which she provides academic oversight of the institution's graduate programs. Dr. Henrich earned her Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education and Organizational Change through Benedictine University. Her dissertation research focused on the employers' view of competency-based education. She also holds both a Bachelor of Science (BSM) and a Master of Science (MSM) degree in Management from Cardinal Stritch University.

Additional Authors

Dr. Mike Marrapodi has enjoyed working in higher education since 2004. He resides in Rhode Island and is currently the Dean of Online Programming for Cambridge College (Boston). As the inaugural individual in this position, he provides leadership to the College’s online course delivery and newly approved fully online degree programs in undergraduate management studies and MBA programs. Dr. Marrapodi holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University. His dissertation research focused on the resilience of high school students in relation to risk factors in their lives. He also holds a Bachelor of Sacred Music and Master of Education degree.

Extended Abstract

The business of Online Program Management, while still emerging, has made it possible for colleges and universities, through strategic partnerships, to not only move degree programs to an online environment, but to successfully recruit non-traditional and adult learners in a way like never before. But taking that step into the OPM space is anything but a simple process.  Institutions must truly understand the potential undertaking – this examination is a process in and of itself. Is OPM right for your college and university? What questions should you ask? How will you know you’ve found the right partner?

But it doesn’t end with online course creation, marketing, and enrollment. The outcome is equally as important. In addition to the credential, it’s imperative to provide programs that ensure students emerge ready for the rigors of the workplace. The introduction of strategic industry partnerships into the mix will ensure the adult learners are provided with the tools they need upon successful completion of a chosen program – whether it be a degree, certificate, badging, or microcrentials that may or may not bear credit. This junction where academia and corporate partnerships intersect provides a critical benefit not only to the student, but to lending an opportunity for greater understanding of what is needed in the marketplace and how institutions can ensure adult learners are prepared.

We call this OPM 2.0!

In today's global economy, it's not enough for students to simply earn an education, they must also be positioned for success. To do that, corporations and higher education must come together to ensure students truly are workforce ready! There are many reasons students continue their education beyond high school. According to the Sodexo University survey, 73 percent of students state that they pursued a degree to improve their job opportunities. For this reason, strategic industry partnerships are a crucial part of ensuring students are workforce ready.

Industry-University partnerships have traditionally existed to provide funding and research. But the shift is now moving toward a partnership that ensures students are prepared to compete in a global work environment. This is even more critical as institutions are increasingly adopting a CBE model.

Focus EduSolutions is an OPM provider to small, private colleges that cater to the non-traditional learner, especially in the continuing education space. In this panel discussion, our leadership team will be joined by two of our institutional partners – the first with which we have established a successful OPM partnership. We will share insights into our first-hand experiences – what worked, what didn’t work, what we’ve learned, and how those lessons have made this partnership even stronger.

We will also be joined by leadership from one institution as we examine the benefits of building this new generation of Industry-University partnerships and how when programs align with employer needs, they become fertile ground for employees seeking career advancement.

This session is designed to enable institutions considering an OPM partnership to learn what they need to know and how to decide if OPM is right for their college or university now or in the future. And how these partnerships can play a pivotal role in ensuring students are workforce ready.