UMass envisions bigger online education footprint with new brand


BOSTON (SHNS) – The University of Massachusetts system will expand its online education footprint with the goal of reaching more adult learners after formally affiliating with a California university known for its work on the digital front, officials said Thursday.

School officials finalized the decision to transfer control of Brandman University, which currently serves 22,000 students as an independent part of the Chapman university system, from Chapman to UMass. As of today, Brandman University is known as “UMass Global,” which officials described as an independent, not-for-profit UMass affiliate.

The agreement expands online learning available under the UMass banner, and UMass Global will focus in particular on expanding talent pools and helping adult learners access new educational opportunities.

“Online learning was rapidly growing in importance to adult learners before the pandemic, but the past year and a half has shown that UMass Global will be essential for millions of adults in Massachusetts, California and across the world. countries because labor markets have been disrupted and the employer’s needs and priorities have changed, ”said UMass President Marty Meehan. “UMass Global will be a trusted partner for learners and employers building on Brandman’s award-winning model. “

The expansion is in progress. In 2019, Meehan announcement in its ‘state of the university’ address that UMass would pursue a new ‘online college’ focused on adult learners, and officials said in June 2020 that UMass was develop a partnership with Brandman University.

The University of Massachusetts system itself will not pay Chapman University to complete the acquisition, but independent, not-for-profit UMass Global will pay Chapman University a total of $ 96 million over the course of over the next 10 years, almost all of which will begin to flow. five years, according to a spokesperson. Brandman University brings UMass Global annual operating revenue of approximately $ 130 million per year, plus approximately $ 50 million in cash.

A 13-member board of directors will lead UMass Global. Robert Manning, who chairs the board of UMass, will chair the global board of UMass, and additional members will be announced in the coming weeks, officials said.

UMass announced on Wednesday that Manning, who also chairs MFS Investment Management, and his wife, Donna, have agreed to make a donation of $ 50 million for the university system.

Based in Irvine, Calif., Brandman University today operates 25 physical campuses in California and Washington as well as hybrid and online models. It began in 1958 when Chapman College – now Chapman University – began offering courses on the base for active-duty military personnel before becoming an independent school within the Chapman university system.

When UMass first disclosed the partnership last year, Chapman University President Daniele Struppa said it had become “increasingly clear” that Chapman’s management of Brandman was gone. ” as far as we could “.

“Now is the time for Brandman’s next step and UMass Global will undoubtedly be a national powerhouse in online education,” Struppa said in a statement Thursday. “The finalization of the relationship between Brandman and UMass allows the two institutions to focus on their core strengths as Chapman continues its meteoric rise as a research institution. “

Brandman’s leadership will remain intact and UMass Global intends to “act urgently to help reduce persistent gaps in academic and economic achievement” by expanding its model of student support and its portfolio of business and nonprofit partnerships, said officials.

“UMass Global will create a tremendous offering at a time when working adults and underserved communities need better options to complete their education,” said Brandman University Chancellor Gary Brahm. “By coming together, we will leverage each other’s relationships, skills and expertise to deliver premier hybrid and online university programs from coast to coast.

The school currently provides services to employers who offer low cost or free college as a worker benefit, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Target, Walmart, Disney, and Discover Financial Services. A spokesperson for UMass said these commitments will continue to be honored under the new partnership model.

Last year, UMass also partnered with Mass General Brigham to launch a certificate and diploma program for medical professionals.

The pandemic has sparked renewed interest in workforce development and skills gaps in Massachusetts. After a wave of unemployment earlier in the crisis, many companies said they were struggling to find employees to fill the jobs in demand.

Governor Charlie Baker has urged the legislature to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funding on economic development and workforce training initiatives to help meet these needs.

UMass and Brandman have touted support for the new UMass Global subsidiary from several large business groups, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Los Angeles County Business Federation and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

“Essential skills are one of the keys to opening economic opportunities for people and communities in Greater Boston and Massachusetts,” said Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president James Rooney in a statement provided by the schools. “UMass Global is an innovative approach to retrain and improve the skills of adult learners and workers, which will enable our region to remain competitive as a global leader in innovation. “

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