Illumination by Modern Campus

Jess Lambrecht (University of Wisconsin Green Bay) on Strengthening Continuing Education Through Collaborative Strategies

May 09, 2024 Modern Campus
Jess Lambrecht (University of Wisconsin Green Bay) on Strengthening Continuing Education Through Collaborative Strategies
Illumination by Modern Campus
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Illumination by Modern Campus
Jess Lambrecht (University of Wisconsin Green Bay) on Strengthening Continuing Education Through Collaborative Strategies
May 09, 2024
Modern Campus

On today’s episode of the Illumination by Modern Campus podcast, podcast host Shauna Cox was joined by Jess Lambrecht to discuss the benefits to both external and internal partnerships, and how to reach growth and engagement with your community.  

Show Notes Transcript

On today’s episode of the Illumination by Modern Campus podcast, podcast host Shauna Cox was joined by Jess Lambrecht to discuss the benefits to both external and internal partnerships, and how to reach growth and engagement with your community.  

Voiceover:  Welcome to Illumination by Modern Campus, the leading podcast focused on transformation and change in the higher education space. On today’s episode, we speak with Jess Lambrecht, who is Executive Officer of the Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Training at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Jess and podcast host Shauna Cox discuss the benefits to both external and internal partnerships, and how to reach growth and engagement with your community.  

Shauna Cox (00:02):Jess, welcome to the Illumination Podcast. It's great to be chatting with you.

Jess Lambrecht (00:06):Glad to be here. Thanks, Shauna.

Shauna Cox (00:07): Absolutely. So we're here today to talk about collaboration. Collaboration, especially when it comes to continuing ed units. So just to kind of kick off our conversation, why is it important for CE units to focus on collaborative, internal and external strategies?

Jess Lambrecht (00:47):Yeah, absolutely. Great question. Really believe that those partnerships is really an opportunity for both organizations or partnering units to win. We think a lot about how organizations can lean on each other and utilize each other's areas of expertise. So obviously within the CE side of things, I mean we're really strong in designing programs and identifying structures in order to ensure relevancy in our community. But we really lean into our content experts to provide guidance in what might be of most interest and UpToDate and current information. But ultimately, at the end of the day, why I believe partnerships are most important is because we can actually both lean into the promotional space and making sure that we are sharing out broadly and widely into our various networks to ensure that we're engaging with the learners that we would love to see involved in our courses or other program areas.

Shauna Cox (02:22):Absolutely, and when it comes to collaboration, whether it's internal or external, it's never always smooth sailing. So what are some of the challenges to that type of collaboration?

Jess Lambrecht (02:34):I think the greatest challenge as it comes to collaborations and partnerships is really it takes more time and energy. I think oftentimes in CE units, we can be almost moved too fast to market and not pause for a moment to ensure that we're bringing along everyone who might potentially benefit from that structure. So really pausing and thinking about what associations, groups, pockets, individuals, employers in particular, what is it that they're looking for, such that when we design something, we already have a roadmap ready to go, and a community of people who are already waiting for the content to come online and to be delivered. So it takes more time, but I believe it's when we really focus on that mutual benefit and they know that they're coming along for the ride or to participate along with us that they know it's going to hit their needs in particular.

(03:27):One example in which this worked really well for us is within our nonprofit education and development network launched in the last two years, and really that was designed with about 12 or 14 executive directors from the various nonprofits who were raising their hand saying they needed something. And in partnership with one of our faculty members in academic programs and then CE being a part of it, we all came together and simply tried to identify how can we facilitate that and be current and again, relevant to what they were challenged with, but they don't necessarily always have the time or capacity to do so. So it really was a great win for all, in my opinion.

Shauna Cox (04:11):Absolutely. And before we even kicked off this podcast, and quite honestly what led to this podcast was the work that you're doing at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. And I know that your background hasn't always been in ce. You come from a student affairs side of things. I, and I would say that that probably led to this adaptation that you guys went into. So how has the CE unit at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay adapted to better align itself to those industry needs?

Jess Lambrecht (04:42):Yeah, it's been a really fun journey, honestly. So having a background in student affairs and thinking about how do we help students develop the career ready skills that they needed to be competitive in the job market, really just brought a different frame of reference for me in how we can build partnerships. In my previous role, it worked very heavily on business outreach and developing those partnerships to help recruit and hire our students. In my current role now, I can essentially expand that even further, and I tend to focus a lot on the continuum from attraction and recruitment of students all the way through the cycle of employability and development, and then actually leading into some of our senior retired programs. I think that's such a neat way to help employers understand how they can intersect with us along the way. But really we focused on a few things over the last two years to help differentiate ourselves and ensure that people understood what we do and how we can do that together.

(05:42):The first thing we did is we did a name change. We are now the division of continuing education and workforce training. And the second half of that titling really means a lot to us because I don't believe in the continuing education space that is well understood by most people unless you have a need because of licensure and industry credentials that you have to have in order to stay current in your professional area. So we needed a better way to showcase that to employers that we actually offer so much more than just continuing education was really important. And then the other thing we did, which is probably not super unique or new, but we developed an advisory board of industry professionals, instructors, faculty members, and employers who are really helping us to respond and help us navigate what other pitfalls are we not seeing? Is this resonating with you? Is our marketing elements making sense? So they really are helpful in just having another network of connections who are essentially our ambassadors of our programs. And that in and of itself has helped us tremendously, especially because it involves our area, workforce development board, our chamber members, other associations, industry associations that are strong in and of itself, that now they're seeing us as a much stronger partner and better understanding again, what and how we can do things together.

Shauna Cox (07:19):And I want to dive into that a little bit more because kind of seeing from what you're saying is that there's a little bit of a ripple effect there. So what impact has this kind of transformation had, not only on the institution, but also its learners?

Jess Lambrecht (07:32):Yeah, absolutely. I mean, ultimately it's led to growth, and that's the exciting part that I love to be in, to be creative. I think we are seen as much more engaged in our community and responsive. And I know one of the greatest challenges of higher education or the critiques is that we don't move fast enough and we don't respond quick enough to industry demands. And so within the CE space, we have an opportunity and ability to do that. And I think the coolest part is being in a fairly decent size metropolitan area. I think that impact is growing significantly. We have great leadership who advocate for continuing education on a regular basis, but we've seen growth in all of our program areas. We're able to slough the programs that are not of interest or pivot them in a way to become more relevant. But we've had growth and interest and people are starting to raise their hand, or at least at a minimum, have more curiosity about what we do and how we can deliver programs in partnership with each other.

Shauna Cox (08:36):And I think our listeners are also going to have some level of curiosity as we're having this conversation. So I kind of want to give them some tips from you because you clearly have the experience in this. So what advice would you share with CE leaders starting to look at exploring related to both that side of internal and external collaboration?

Jess Lambrecht (09:01):I think at our core, the greatest piece of advice is to make sure that you're focused on partnership. What does that look like? How can you identify those interested partners, those that are again, more curious or intrigued about what you're doing, that you can help move the needle, as I call it, thinking about what can we explore and create together? And I definitely make sure that we showcase that on a regular basis through all of our different channels and media outlets that we are a willing partner and will create to meet current needs and demands. But just being mindful that it does take time, that it's a process. And I think being present at different community events, especially things that relate to employers and industry needs in particular to remind people who you are, what you do. And I don't think we can rely on formal marketing campaigns to do that. I think it comes from the true authentic relationship building consistency, and frankly, I'm pretty blessed to have a decent sized team who believes in that as well and is present on a regular basis as many spaces as possible within our region.

Shauna Cox (10:13):Absolutely. Well, Jess, that's everything we have for you, but I know you came prepared with your restaurant recommendation that we love to share at the end of the podcast. So if someone's coming to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where do they need to go?

Jess Lambrecht (10:27):Absolutely. Well, my favorite place to go and we do frequent often is called Play Bistro. It's a local place that is well known for, its fresh in-house prepared dishes. They have a really amazing Wagyu steak that I love, but they also have really great fish entrees, and it's just a fun place to be in Green Bay. We are well known for cheese curds and bratwurst, but Play Bistro definitely has an eclectic menu that I think is to die for.

Shauna Cox (11:00):Amazing. That sounds so good. I love a good bistro. Just thank you so much for joining the podcast. It was great chatting with you.

Jess Lambrecht (11:08):You as well. Thanks, Shauna.