Partnering with Perrigo: Recognizing a Need for Project Management Education and Training, CU Adapts Curriculum to Fill Local Business Gaps

11-30-2017

Photo courtesy of Dan Vos Construction

by Tiffany Kreh (B.A. '07)

The pursuit of knowledge is a universal desire. Across cultural, industrial, social and economic differences, history continues to showcase the need for higher learning.

Yet even as the demand is ever-present, higher education in the U.S. is in the midst of a change. Broadening access and enhancing student success in the marketplace is challenging institutions across the country.

Rising to the Challenge

To meaningfully influence higher education, it's important to listen and stay fresh. By offering nontraditional curriculum options, Cornerstone's Professional & Graduate Studies (PGS) division implements new methods to serve those in the community.

The PGS leadership team and its staff consistently search for new ways to serve the adult learner and generate interest in PGS programs.

"Since its foundation in 2004, PGS exists to provide the adult learner a distinct and academically excellent education from a Christ-centered worldview," said Peter Osborn, vice president for adult learning.

Identifying Opportunities

Patti Ticknor, PGS enrollment counselor in Kalamazoo, Mich., helps professionals thrive in their jobs by utilizing PGS programs.

Over the years, Ticknor observed a number of Perrigo employees attending classes at the Kalamazoo location. Perrigo is the world's largest manufacturer of over-the-counter healthcare products and supplier of infant formulas for store brands.

Ticknor reached out to Perrigo when she noted a need that PGS could fulfill: An option for project management education and training.

Seeking innovative solutions to a practical business need, professors Kris Zoerman and Dave Johnson started with CU's Master of Business Administration (MBA) project management concentration model. They then shaped it into a course and offered it at the Perrigo location in Allegan, Mich.

"The Perrigo offering is really just a continuation of the original PGS purpose," says Osborn. He looks forward to seeing how PGS can help other businesses in the community with future partnership opportunities.

Why Project Management?

Across business industries, project management is an in-demand core skill because it's so versatile. It's also one of the most practical areas of study because it teaches a methodology and mindset about how to solve problems and get work done.

It makes good business sense for a company as large as Perrigo to say yes to project management training for its employees. By training employees to become Project Management Professionals (PMP is a registered trademark certification), it increases personal and professional effectiveness by working from a universal language across the company, allowing Perrigo to operate more efficiently.

How did it come together?

While project management is a body of knowledge that has to be taught in a certain way, Zoerman and Johnson excel at explaining the why behind project management as a methodology. The teaching team customized course material to fit Perrigo's industry needs.

Best practices in adult learning theory allow students to shape the curriculum, making practical application a reality from day one. Zoerman and Johnson ask students to bring real-life examples from the workplace to the classroom and then create opportunities to use new knowledge to solve problems of practice at work.

Sixteen Perrigo employees enrolled in the course for project management certification, and five went on after the class to enter CU's MBA program.

Serving the Marketplace

Jeff Savage, associate dean of business for PGS, is proud of the innovative methods his team is using to build frameworks for adult learning in the business sector.

"Our faculty are not only successful professionals in their day jobs but also bring practical application to the classroom. The education our students acquire brings value to their roles and, by extension, to the companies for whom they work. Nowhere is this more evident than with education and training Kris and Dave delivered to Perrigo," said Savage.

PGS consistently strives to discover out-of-the-box ways to connect with employers and help bring relevant programs to their employees.

"This represents the best of what higher education can do in the local and global communities it serves," said Savage.

Learn More

For more information about how PGS programs can serve a local business, contact James Link at 616.949.5300.

Cornerstone University is a Christ-centered university with a passion for global influence through the transforming power of the gospel. As an interdenominational institution located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cornerstone offers traditional undergraduate programs as well as adult undergraduate and graduate programs through the Professional & Graduate Studies division, Grand Rapids Theological Seminaryand Asia Biblical Theological Seminary.