The Value of NACRO
Associate Vice Chancellor for Corporate Relations and Economic Development
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Editor:The University of Illinois has a long history of involvement and leadership in NACRO, what value do you think this has brought to the Illinois corporate relations ecosystem?
I assumed responsibility for corporate relations at Illinois in January 2008 and almost immediately learned about NACRO and involvement of my colleagues at the campus Office of Corporate Relations (OCR) in this organization. NACRO has been the perfect forum for peer-to-peer learning for people responsible for management of corporate relations at higher education institutions. NACRO has also done an incredible job of identifying best practices for building effective and sustainable university-company relationships. I have encouraged officers of the OCR and at colleges at Illinois to actively participate at NACRO and over time many of them have played leadership roles in the organization. They come back from NACRO meetings recharged and full of new ideas for improving and increasing our university corporate relationships.
Editor:Are there specific examples of things that the Office of Corporate Relations at Illinois has improved or put in place because of NACRO involvement?
The educational materials developed by NACRO members, various papers that the organization has prepared have been an invaluable asset for my colleagues at Illinois. The culture among NACRO members of staying in touch with each other and helping their colleagues at other institutions does not only improve the performance of corporation relations officers at Illinois, but also provided them new contacts at a number of companies. I am confident they have done the same for their colleagues at other universities. NACRO exemplifies to me the ideal of “rising tide raises all boats.”I require all new officers joining the OCR to attend NACRO programs like the Bootcamp as a part of their on-boarding process. It is a great way for them to quickly learn about the essentials of successful corporate relationships and be connected to a peer network for on-going support. It is flattery for Illinois that our OCR is both well-respected and benchmarked by higher education institutions across the country.
Editor:What would you say to other campus-level leadership folks who may question involvement of their corporate relations officers in NACRO?
Most universities have a small number of employees handling corporate relations. They, including Illinois, do not have programs for training and professional skill development of these officers. NACRO has started addressing this gap. My colleagues have gained professionally much more than the time and money the university has invested in their participation in NACRO. I therefore encourage them to serve on NACRO board and committees and contribute towards making NACRO an even more useful organization for corporate relations officers and their employers. The learning that takes place at NACRO levels the corporate relations field for all universities and provides members an ongoing vibrant learning network.