Corporate Engagement Centers
The role of corporate relations has been one that has evolved over the last decade and we have seen partner universities address this evolving role by reorganizing their corporate relations offices into a central corporate engagement center. Thank you to our NACRO members Sacha Patera, Associate Vice President, Corporate Engagement Center at Rutgers University; Melissa Erekson, Assistant Vice President for Corporate Engagement at Penn State University; and Melissa Simon, Business Engagement Director at University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Business Engagement who were kind enough to share their insights on these recent organizational changes with us!
In 2018, the Rutgers University Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) and the Rutgers University Foundation (RUF) embarked in a joint endeavor merging corporate philanthropic support and corporate research sponsorship and investment into a one-stop-shop, Corporate Engagement Center (CEC), that provides efficient industry-centric service, while providing comprehensive corporate relations support to University leaders, faculty, research centers and training programs. The CEC aims to do three main things: (1) Provide an obvious “front door” into the university for companies; (2) develop and structure strategic partnerships between university researchers and industry, with an emphasis on collaborations that span campuses, units, schools and departments; (3) Manage information on university activities that are relevant to industry, existing relationships with industry, and industry trends affecting relationships with industry. The CEC achieves these objectives with a team that, when fully staffed, will be composed of CEC company relationship managers, a CEC chief information officer, and a dedicated CEC marketing and communications leader. The goal of the CEC is to increase the quality and volume of mutually beneficial industry partnerships while providing a one-stop-shop experience to external and internal communities of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Penn State’s new Corporate Engagement Center, located in Innovation Park at Penn State, is gearing up to serve as a central hub for the university’s industry engagement activities. The establishment of the Center is the culmination of an in-depth look at corporate fundraising and industrial sponsored research success vs peer universities, including a study by Grenzebach, Glier & Associates that recommended the development of a cohesive, university-wide strategy, aligned with the strategic plan and A Greater Penn State campaign, prioritizing holistic engagement. The new center is a collaboration between the Office of University Development and the Office of the Vice President for Research, who combined staff from the Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Office of Industrial Partnerships to create a Corporate Engagement team of seven staff members led by an Assistant Vice President reporting up to both offices. The Corporate Engagement team will work with corporate partners on all aspects of their engagement with Penn State, in close collaboration with Career Services, rather than approaching companies from all around the system. Whether a corporate partner seeks a research partnership, a philanthropic opportunity or exceptional Penn State student talent, the center will help meet their needs. While the new center provides an obvious convenience for industry partners, the benefits to Penn State are also great. Benchmarking studies show that this one-stop shopping model, and the integrated relationships it enables, result in greater faculty research engagement, greater student engagement and career success, and increased corporate giving. The center will work with colleges, institutes, and the administrative units, to facilitate building strong corporate partnerships, taking the lead on relationships that span colleges and administrative units, building inclusive strategies aligned with articulated corporate partner interests. The Center will support strategic, university-wide initiatives Colleges, institutes and campuses will take the lead on unit-specific relationships with the support of the Center, which will develop and provide training, marketing materials, tools and processes for use by faculty and staff. We’re confident the restructuring will lead to the kind of collaboration and innovation that will ultimately result in much more productive relationships for Penn State and our corporate partners.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
At University of Wisconsin Madison the key driving force for the creation of a corporate engagement center was a desire to have a voice that was one UW to our external industry partners and reduce confusion over multiple conversations coming from different sources. To accomplish this effort our Office of Corporate Relations was rebranded as Office of Business Engagement (OBE) and officially launched on July 1, 2018 with accountability for corporate engagements across talent acquisition, professional development, sponsored research and philanthropy. The team also provides linkages to licensing and sponsorships. In first year, the team has been focused on ensuring campus partners and corporate partners understand the new scope and how to work with OBE; in all the above capacities. Another area of focus has been on the tools and processes the OBE needs in order to be successful including a new CRM, bringing on additional resources, and conducting strategic planning.