NCCU Summit Focuses on Benefits of Industry Partnerships
DURHAM, N.C.North Carolina Central University held its first fall summit last month on the university’s Durham campus. The daylong meeting, “NCCU and Industry: Designing the Future” brought together NCCU students, faculty and administrators and representatives from more than 70 major corporations to discuss how both groups can develop mutually beneficial partnerships.Much of the day focused on discussing how corporate America can help prepare students for jobs when they graduate, and brainstorming ideas on how to improve internships, co-ops and scholarships for NCCU students. In addition to NCCU officials and industry leaders, educators from other universities where the idea has been successful were on hand to share their expertise.Florida A&M University Associate Vice President Thomas Haynes said universities need business partnerships to help students gain a foundation for their career.“It is part of the major responsibility of the university to create pathways for every student that walks through the door,” said Haynes. “Those pathways are the in point to the greater society.”Haynes also discussed how college/industry partnerships can benefit both groups. According to Haynes, these partnerships will provide NCCU with more funds, recruitment of top student talent and increased enrollment. In return, the industry will gain through the recruitment of these students, helping them with jobs, internships and co-ops, causing a value exchange between college and businesses. “This not a costly proposition, but it is a very effective technique in the recruitment of the most talented students,” said Haynes. “Students want to know today that there is opportunity out there and through this method you are showing them that there is that opportunity.” Several corporate representatives at the summit were NCCU alumni. They appeared impressed and encouraged by the summit’s goals.Lackey Barnes, a sales representative with Xerox, recalled her own experience with finding a career. “There was not a summit such as this where businesses and corporations sat down and helped create futures for students. Although there was the career counseling and placement services, the services were not as advertised as they are now,” recalls Barnes. “This is going to help the university become very successful,” she added.According to Susan L. Hester, NCCU director of corporate and foundation relations, the event was a success, and feedback from the corporations has been positive. NCCU officials were particularly pleased with financial support announced during the summit. Marriott presented the university’s department of hospitality and tourism with $500,000 and Cisco contributed $40,000 to the development of college and industry relations.
— By Claudia Oakes
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