A partnership between Lander University and six area businesses and corporations will help employees earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees through online courses and reduced tuition fees.
“Since its inception, Lander University’s College of Graduate and Online Studies has been focused on helping working adults continue their education through online options,” said Dr. Lloyd Willis, dean of the college. “We know that universities across the country accomplish this same goal by partnering with local companies and providing a level of targeted service for their employees to make degree programs more accessible.”
The first community partners are Countybank, Greenwood Capital, Lonza, Greenwood Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, National HealthCare and VELUX Group USA. The partnership program began in May when Lander’s Board of Trustees agreed to establish formal relationships with area corporations.
Through the partnership agreements, Lander will offer a 25 percent tuition discount to employees enrolled in online programs. “This arrangement allows the University to assist working adults, who often think their only options for degrees are large, out-of-state online institutions. Many working adults are unaware that these options exist within South Carolina and that our programs are affordable and tailored to their specific career needs,” Willis said.
Corporate partners see a stong need locally for enhancing the education of their employees.
“We are committed to serving our associates by providing education and training opportunities,” said Jamie Hedgepath, chief human resources officer for Countybank and Greenwood Capital. “We are excited to expand our existing relationship with Lander to provide local cost-effective educational opportunities for our associates and help them grow on both a personal and professional level.”
During a reception with corporate partner officials, Willis said, “Lander is committed at the highest level to this agreement. These days, many of the students we serve no longer are your traditional 18-year-olds. Students are older and have established careers and goals.”
The opportunities to learn online at Lander are extensive. The University offers undergraduate online programs in business administration, human services, paralegal studies, criminology, psychology and public health. With the nation’s nursing shortage at a critical level, Lander also has an RN to BSN program which enables RNs to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Graduate online programs are available in business administration, management, education, emergency management, exercise science and nursing.
Christen Davis, senior director of quality at Lonza, said many employees are seeking career growth and development opportunities. “Online educational programs are something they are very excited about. I think the online experience is really beneficial, and having a partner in Greenwood who will help in the career development of our colleagues is a tremendous benefit to the community.”
Healthcare providers throughout the United States have a need for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and nurses. “There is great recruitment in this area, and a need among all of our healthcare facilities,” said Kristin Manske, chief executive officer of Greenwood Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.
“In today’s environment, you can have your choice of jobs. Workforce development is a huge emphasis for our community. Having expanded educational programs will help us make sure they stay in our community,” she said.
Willis said the program is working with employees of the corporations involved in the partnership. The University hopes to add additional corporate partners in the future.
“We believe that South Carolina talent should be cultivated inside South Carolina, and we believe these partnerships will help the people who need to further their education realize that Lander is a viable option for online learning with a local presence that can support them as they move forward,” he said.