Carlow University has received a $500,000 R.K. Mellon Foundation grant to fund creation of a Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation. Carlow's four deans discuss the importance of workforce development today.

Lynn George, PhD, Dean of the College of Health and Wellness: One of Carlow’s strengths is our collaborative relationship with regional employers. In the College of Health and Wellness, numerous partnerships address specialized regional workforce needs. For example, in response to the current and future need for operating room (OR) nurses, we worked with UPMC to develop a perioperative internship. To date more than 20 Carlow nursing students have completed this elective course and have gone on to have paid internships. One recent graduate was hired directly by UPMC into its OR.

UPMC doesn’t typically hire new graduates into this specialty area, but they cited participation in the perioperative internship as a key factor. By meeting workforce needs we created a pathway that bene ted both the learner and the employer.

Allyson Lowe, PhD, Dean of the College of Leadership and Social Change: Those pathways are key, Dr. George. That’s why, in our college, all undergraduate programs ensure that students have an internship or fieldwork experience for credit. Many students receive job offers as a result. For example, several trustees are personally invested in hiring interns and employees, like LitCon Group’s work with our accounting students. Also, area businesses like Crown Castle Cellular and nonprofits like the YWCA are sustaining experiences for students that lead to work or public engagement.

Matthew Gordley, PhD, Dean of the College of Learning and Innovation: The liberal arts have always provided students with skills that are needed in any profession—and which are urgently needed today: ability to solve complex problems, understand multiple viewpoints, write well, work effectively in teams, and creatively respond to challenges and emerging opportunities. Advances in educational technology provide innovative ways to help lifelong learners enhance these skills in dynamic digital environments that reflect the world in which they live and work. One stellar example is our new program in Online Instructional Design and Technology. Our education faculty share their expertise and strengthen the corps of educators (both in corporate and school settings) who are training others to advance in the workforce in this digital age.

Rachael Afolabi Royes, EdD, Dean of the Center for Digital Learning and Innovation: The Center for Digital Learning and Innovation is excited to work on this initiative, since our work is very closely tied to skills building and professional development. We rely on our expertise in instructional design and learning development as we work with content from faculty and subject matter experts in developing innovative educational technologies. This approach to learning is seen first-hand in today’s workforce.

Dean Lowe: In maintaining workforce pathways, we have also designed virtual internships so that working adult students can have better access to practical training— regardless of their location. An e-internship with a United Nations research affiliate produced a paid job for an adult learner who wanted to keep her Pittsburgh house and kids in school but expand her reach. And, pathways don’t stop with classes. Every program in the college has an avenue to a “next step”—from practical training or accelerated admission to Carlow graduate programs to early decision and start in law, medicine, or graduate training.