Marian University is launching a new initiative that will improve the education and success of its students through talent assessment and development, externships and internships, and the engagement of alumni and key stakeholders who will provide mentoring and career development opportunities. Dubbed “The Marian University Exchange,” the initiative is funded in part by a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the Endowment’s Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations.
The Marian University Exchange will embed career development into academic curriculum, making it required of each student rather than an extracurricular activity. Students will be required to interact with area businesses, professional firms, and not-for-profit enterprises outside the classroom, gaining “real-world” experience that will benefit them and, ultimately, future employers. Students will interact with area employers sooner and more often, which will improve classroom learning and help students stay on track toward graduation.
“At Marian University, integrating experiential learning into academic curriculum is our approach to providing a high quality education,” Daniel J. Elsener, Marian University president, said. “The Exchange is a bold initiative that will increase the number of enthusiastic partners working with us at an even deeper level, ensuring our students receive a high quality education that will help grow employment in central Indiana. We are thankful for Lilly Endowment’s grant, which will help Marian University play an even greater role in supporting the economic vibrancy of central Indiana.”
By connecting its students to area employers, not-for-profits, and other business groups sooner and more frequently during their academic careers, Marian University believes that it can impact the number of students who remain in Central Indiana following their college graduation. The meaningful relationships that students will develop with the area’s employers, including the mentoring and skill assessments students will receive, should significantly increase their prospects for finding employment locally.
Marian University recently began construction on Alumni Hall, a $10 million student center that will also house the university bookstore. Upon completion of Alumni Hall in August 2014, the university will begin renovating the current bookstore located in the university library into a bright, high-energy office suite with state-of-the-art technology and contemporary furniture – resembling the work environment of the city’s leading-edge companies. The long-term vision for the facility includes converting the library into a Center for Student Success, with The Exchange serving as the centerpiece of the facility.
Students in Marian University’s Byrum School of Business, the School of Mathematics and Sciences, and the School of Liberal Arts are expected to be the primary users of The Exchange. Marian University’s Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership – a post-graduate program for K-12 principals, administrators, and teachers – will also participate. Students in that program will have the ability to create a consulting group, providing evaluation to school districts across Indiana and the nation. Those services will create employment for students, while presenting opportunities to collaborate and interact with diverse enterprises.
The university stated that the Endowment’s grant will cover nearly half of the $2.1 million it hopes to raise to fund the start-up of The Exchange.