UST Explores Partnership Paradigms
These are complex times for institutions of higher education, and University of St. Thomas is boldly addressing challenges by exploring strong, innovative partnerships.
Perhaps with the exception of the handful of universities that are buffered by endowments over $1 Billion, most U.S. colleges and universities face intense financial pressures and fundamental challenges to their business models. Simultaneously, those same institutions are being asked to do more — to improve student outcomes, provide more and better options for an expanding student base, especially the adult learner, and to compete in an increasingly online and global marketplace.
The answer for many institutions is to form new alliances and partnerships to help meet the expectations of future students. UST believes these partnerships are fundamental to a college or university’s healthy sustainability.
At UST, President Richard Ludwick said, “The animating forces behind UST go back to the essence of the Great Commission that Jesus gave to the Disciples to teach the world what he taught us and to baptize,” Ludwick said. “We think about the Basilian Fathers and the great motto of the University – Crescamus in Christo. We affirm that we don’t do it alone. In any evangelical or education effort, there is always a partner. It is never a one-person show.”
Partnering Makes UST Strong
Partnerships help connect the University to the world outside the Montrose campus.
“Partnering makes UST stronger,” Ludwick, said. “As UST grows those connections, St. Thomas gains stature and serves its mission better. We demonstrate our leadership, and others in the higher education space ask UST for advice and, in some cases, help. This also gives us opportunities to leverage our growing competencies. UST then becomes an even stronger leader in serving students and communities with the partnership paradigm.”
Collaboration Catalyst for Innovation
Collaboration can be a catalyst for incredible innovation. For instance, some universities are partnering with the private sector to help build and run high-quality facilities. These public-private partnerships are long-term agreements to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a facility. This type of partnership helps colleges and universities accomplish big projects, while preserving capital and bringing in expertise beyond the core competencies of a university. Examples may include football stadiums or residence halls. “Though this option is seen mostly in public universities, UST has explored variations on this type of partnership as it looks toward additional student housing solutions,” Ludwick said.
Partnership Models Run the Gamut
For UST, partnership models run the gamut from typical to novel. It could include growing our nursing program with institutions that help with practicums, or another model would be our partnership with the city of Conroe. From aligning with tech companies on Esports to a more traditional partnership forged by UST’s John Paul II Institute, UST explores all its alliance options.
UST Partners with Orbis to Grow Nursing Program
The University partnered with Orbis to establish an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Shenandoah, Texas, near major hospitals adjacent to Conroe. This partnership enabled UST to employ its excellent School of Nursing curriculum, quickly market the program, handle the admissions process and build a state-of-the-art lab facility without using its own fiscal resources. The University is now exploring the possibility of expanding this program in other surrounding-Houston sites and beyond.
New Micro-campus in Miracle City
Opening a new micro-campus in Conroe expands the University’s footprint and serves Montgomery County residents and businesses.
“We take the University’s greatest gifts and share them with another community in a way that finds us walking together to serve the needs of the people and benefit St. Thomas,” Ludwick said. “That is one of the ways we live out our mission and have it come to life.”
Esports Comes to St. Thomas
The University has had success with partnerships, and as the higher education landscape shifts, some partnership paradigms are accelerating in their benefit to UST and those around us.
“We are looking at the tech sector as a whole and its potential,” Ludwick said. “In this sector, we are also seeing strong growth with partners in commercial real estate, internship opportunities, curricular and programing opportunities.”
JPII Institute Opens Partnerships with Polish Entitles
On a more traditional note, Ludwick cites the JPII Institute and its partnership with Polish entities – government, church leaders and educational leaders. “This is brand new to us,” he said. “It helps to explain new evangelization, which has touched all of us through the JPPII pontificate.”
Ludwick concludes, “People are thirsty for innovation. Our Call Toward Tomorrow strategic planning process put that forward. That is why we launched our MAX Innovation Network. Actually, innovation was number two on the Call Toward Tomorrow Task Force list after Catholic identity. I believe that partnership is part of the Christian, Catholic DNA. We do it because that is who we are.”