24: How Eastern Washington University Spins Up New Programs in Record Time w/ Dr Scott Gordon

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Scott Gordon, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eastern Washington University, discusses how they partnered with Microsoft to spin up a new business analytics degree program, in less than a year, to meet Microsoft’s demand for graduates with data analytics experience.

A lot of the communication that we'vehad with business industry. They want the same kind of things we want.They want highly educated critical thinkers, those that have the ability to work inteams, those who can communicate with spoken word, written word, etc.Not just the skill set needed for particular discipline. You're listening to enrollment growthuniversity from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders lookingto grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university. I'mEricleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education and we're here today with Dr ScottGordon, provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eastern Washington University. Scott, welcome to the show. Well,...

...thank you. Thank you for havingme. We're going to have a great conversation today about how to spin upnew academic programs fast in order to meet growing employered man but before we gettoo deep into that, Scott, can you get the listeners a little bitbetter understanding of both eastern Washington University and your role there? Yes, Iam the provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs here at Eastern eastern Washington University, is located just south of Spokane. We have about some more between twelveand thirteen thousand students. We are a regional, comprehensive institution. Students comefrom a diverse background. We have a lot of first generation college students,we have a lot of students from underserved populations. We have about a hundredand forty five areas of study. That would include undergraduate and graduate programs.And we're located, again, just south of Spokane, of beautiful area inthe in the northwest. So I really love the story and have been soexcited to chat with you about it.

So you learned that Microsoft, oneof the largest employers in your state, was going to be looking to hirehuge numbers of graduates with did analytics experience? Talk to us about what you didnext. Yeah, so that discussion occurred in the follow two thousand andsixteen with an alum who has a twenty five year history with with Microsoft,and we had a good conversation and it was just kind of a casual conversationabout the field of data analytics, data science and the fact that Microsoft wasdeveloping a professional program in that area because of the lack of qualified data scientists, data and analysts. And so we talked about well, HMM, that'sinteresting. You know, we are about three, three and a half hoursaway from Microsoft is in a lot of our students who come to eastern WashingtonUniversity are actually from the west side of the state. How could we builda win win situation where we could offer...

...data science as part of a degreeprogram or a degree program in and of itself and utilize that curriculum that Microsofthas developed? So from that we just started this brain sort of how mightwe develop this collaboration? And over the course of the fall of two thousandand sixteen through spring of two thousand and seventeen, we began that process,having meetings where Microsoft folks would would interact with our campus folks and finding wayswhere we connect, in ways where we can develop something different, and wewere successful in doing that. So, followed two thousand and sixteen, theideation starts. How long was it before you were able to start and rulingyour first students in that in that a new degree program? Yeah, soit was interesting because that start in August, actually two thousand and sixteen. ByOctober we had a group of about a half a dozen Microsoft professionals ina room with about two dozen faculty and...

...academic leaders here at the institution,and from that meeting we had several action items and within two or three weekswe had that team from Microsoft back on campus and we really had the frameworkfor how we would get started. So over the course of the late fallof sixteen, early spring of seventeen, we really began a lot of weeklyconversations on the phone because this was something where we had to establish our notjust the curricular relationship. We had to establish the relationship with the technology,the x platform which this Microsoft professional program is on, with our platform forcourse management here, which is canvass. We had to make sure systems interactedand and so on. So that was the process and all the time thetechnical processes were under we're being undertaken,...

...the curriculum was being developed, andso we actually were on a quarter system here. But by spring core oftwo thousand and seventeen, we began to identify some of the students who wereready to be incorporated into this program so that this fall we actually started theprogram in kind of the silent phase and we're going to be ready to gearup with a whole onslaught of new students for fall of eighteen. It's incrediblyimpressive, Scott. What is it about eastern Washington's culture that was able tosupport such a quick spin up of a program like this? Well, youknow, I think our culture is very similar to higher education culture around thecountry. I think one of the things that we did in order to getthe buying of the faculty is to to really discuss the philosophy around the factthat we were partnering with Microsoft, but they weren't going to be driving anddictating that. The faculty would still have...

...the ownership in control of their curriculum, of their courses. They could incorporate as much or as little of thatMicrosoft professional program into their courses and or curriculum. And so we had somefaculty who incorporated modules here and there throughout their their courses. But then wealso had a program business analytics who said no, we want to incorporate theentire Microsoft professional program and allow our students to not only get that degree inbusiness analytics but to get that Microsoft professional certification as well, and so wewere very clear upfront that you know we're here, and I'm my office ishere to expose you to possible potential partnerships and collaborations, but the key isnot forcing those, rather letting them take take hold organically. Yeah, totalk a little bit more about that.

So, knowing that you were specificallytrying to create graduates with skill sets that that would also be a good matchfor exactly what Microsoft was looking for, how did you go about partnering withMicrosoft in Your Faculty to create this curriculum that would align to that skill setthey were looking for in new graduates? Yeah, so what we ended updoing was again, throughout those you know, the basis of all of this iscommunication, collaboration and more communication. We out line for the Microsoft folkswhat our curriculum is in what it isn't. We gave them a full curriculum withcourses and syllabi. Microsoft gave us their professional program syllabus and modules.We are the faculty, got permission from Microsoft to go through and analyze andeven go through those modules and cells. So we were able to take thecurriculum from both entities and essentially map it to see how far a part orhow similar the curriculum are were to one...

...another. And so that really wasinteresting because some faculty said, wow, this is exactly the kind of thingthat I'm doing in the class or this is what I wanted to do,and that's awesome. So so it's a matter of you know, I kindof see myself in all this, has the match maker to try to justbring people together to the table and have people be transparent about what they're doing, what they want to do and find those natural alliances and matches. That'sreally fastinting because I think I think a big question people may be asking,perhaps out of jealousy, is that boy really seriously, it's Gott tell mehow are you will get faculty buying. But is it because the program thatyour faculty wanted to create was just so either coincidentally or just from a skillset alignment standpoint, just so similar to what Microsoft was looking for? Ithink that's part of it and I think you know, because Microsoft is sucha global name and and tea and you know they're right here within the state, a good partner of the institution.

I think that was kind of apeople didn't go into it with with as much skepticism as what they would formaybe some some entity that isn't as well known as that makes sense. Don'tget me wrong. I mean there are pockets of faculty who are suspicious aboutthis. Is this industry and business kind of inputting themselves into the curriculum ofhigher education and and and that's again why I think it's important that that webring folks together, but we don't force the relationship. Love it. AndI know it's a brand new program but what are the plans for keeping thiscurriculum current moving forward to continue to match the evolving needs of Microsoft and othercompanies? Yeah, so I think the key to this is that we continuethe collaboration. We have sessions to debrief about what's working and what's not workingand where the field is moving and where it where we anticipate it going.And I think the other thing too,...

...is establishing the culture of daring totry, trying something new and if they're if they fail, there's no significantrepercussions. And and one of the things that I think higher d has beencriticized frequently about is the inability to change with the Times. And you know, you hear all the ideas that you know, the ivory tower and thecurriculum isn't meeting the needs of business and industry and so on. I think, you know, one of the things we have to do is is reallyopen our selves up, but the businesses in the industry has to open themselvesup to communicate, to talk, to see what's working what's not working,because you know, a lot of the communication that we've had with business industry, they want the same kind of things we want. They want highly educated, critical thinkers, those that have the ability to work in teams, thosewho can communicate with spoken word, written word, etc. Not just theskill set needed for a particular discipline.

So I think we're not as farapart as what a lot of folks think. I think we just don't have theopportunity to to sit down at the table and talk about these types ofthings. So our idea to keep the curriculum up to date is continued interactionwith with Microsoft other business and industry, because you know, I don't knowif you realize, but Mackenzie Global Institute put out a study that by theend of this year two thousand and eighteen will be a shortage in the UnitedStates of one point five million data scientists, data analysts. That's that's huge andthat's something that, you know, higher education needs to be aware ofand and help to resolve that that issue. So good and Scott. Has Thisprocess made other faculty or yourself excited to try and proactively work with otherlocal employers to create or iterate new academic...

...programs or concentrations? Yes, ithas, and you know, one of the things that that we're going tobe constantly faced with is is it the right fit, because a lot ofinstitutions and a lot of individuals think that. Well, you know, these employerrelationship centered around skills and so on. Is is a Community College Niche?Well, I would say it is, but it can also be a higherfour year and higher niche as well, because a lot of the folks thatthat are coming out of four year schools and even graduate programs. Ifwe can have this, this marriage where the curriculum meets the needs and thecurriculum is also but the faculty are interested in delivering, that's a win winsituation. It's got such good stuff. Any final advice for listeners looking tocreate a culture that enables them to move...

...with this sort of speed at theirinstitution patients. Don't try to force these relationships. Really let the faculty takewhat the time that they need to understand to realize that. For my experience, business and industry isn't there to say here's the curriculum that you must teach, but rather, if we can have this open dialog, to say,you know, here's where we can have a win win. I think that'sthe key and not forcing these relationships, making them happen organic. Scott,great advice. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any follow up questions? Sure I'd be more than happy to answer questionsyou have further discussion. Probably the easiest way would be via email and myemail addresses s Gordon. That's s Goor Don at EW Dot Edu. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us...

...today, Scott. Well, thankyou. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helixeducations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the secondedition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutionscan solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show inItunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Untilnext time,.

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