UMass Global will expand pathways to college degrees for adult learners and strengthen talent pipelines for U.S. employers
BOSTON (Sept. 2, 2021) – The University of Massachusetts and Chapman University today announced the transfer of control of Brandman University to UMass. This newly finalized affiliation officially launches UMass Global, a nonprofit affiliate of UMass that will deliver expanded online education opportunities to adult learners across the nation and around the globe.
“UMass Global will provide high quality, student-centered, flexible educational opportunities for adult learners seeking to complete their degrees and accelerate their economic mobility,” University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan said. “Online learning was rapidly growing in importance for adult learners before the pandemic, but the last year and a half has demonstrated that UMass Global will be essential to millions of adults in Massachusetts, California and across the nation as job markets have been disrupted and employer needs and priorities have shifted. UMass Global will be a trusted partner to learners and employers by building on Brandman’s award-winning model.” (See video at online.massachusetts.edu)
UMass Global results from an initiative first announced in March 2019 by President Meehan to scale up new online learning opportunities for working adults and make UMass a national leader in online education. The selection of Brandman University as a partner followed a comprehensive review process, during which UMass considered more than 100 potential partners. UMass announced a strategic partnership with Chapman in June 2020. After a year of defining the partnership and working with regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies, the UMass-Brandman affiliation will now officially operate under the banner of UMass Global.
“UMass has found an excellent partner in Brandman University as both institutions push forward with meeting the growing needs of adult learners,” Chapman University President Daniele Struppa said. “Chapman began serving active military in the late 50’s, which eventually grew into what is now a recognized leader in adult learning in Brandman. The time is right for Brandman’s next step and UMass Global will undoubtedly be a national powerhouse in online education. Finalizing the relationship between Brandman and UMass allows the two institutions to focus on their core strengths while Chapman continues its meteoric rise as a research institution.”
Brandman’s origins date to 1958, when Chapman College, now Chapman University, began providing on-base classes to active-service military. Chapman eventually established Brandman as an independent university within the Chapman University System. Today, Brandman has 25 physical campuses in California and Washington, including six at military bases, and is recognized for its hybrid and online education.
“UMass Global will create a formidable offering at a time when working adults and underserved communities need better options to complete their educations,” said Brandman University Chancellor Gary Brahm. “By coming together, we will leverage each other’s relationships, skills, and expertise to deliver leading hybrid and online academic programs from coast to coast.”
UMass Global’s Immediate Focus
With Brandman’s current leadership fully intact, UMass Global will act with urgency to help reduce persistent educational and economic achievement gaps by building on Brandman’s personalized student support services model and growing Brandman’s portfolio of U.S. business and nonprofit partnerships.
Brandman currently provides comprehensive services to employees of the Automobile Club of Southern California, and through Guild Education, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Discover Financial Services, Disney, Target, and Walmart, among others, all of which offer low or no cost college as an employee benefit. UMass also invests in employer partnerships. In June 2020, UMass announced a strategic alliance with Mass General Brigham health care system, the largest employer in Massachusetts, to develop a certificate and degree completion pathway for its healthcare professionals.
Setting the Context for UMass Global
- About 36 million Americans have some college but no degree, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. UMass President Marty Meehan declared in 2019 that UMass would step up to provide online college opportunities to foster economic mobility at scale throughout the nation.
- UMass Global will build on Brandman’s track record of helping employers build talent pipelines. Employers have identified an acute need for educational programs to retain and recruit talent. 74% of 500 U.S. HR professionals with authority in hiring decisions agree a skills gap persists in the United States, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The top three organizational human resource goals were to retain more talent, recruit top talent, and reduce the time to hire.
- UMass Global is committed to helping members of underserved communities complete college through innovative and leading student support services that includes personalized coaching from beginning to end.
- Nationwide, Black Americans and Latinos were more likely to have suffered disruptions to their work and educations from the onset of COVID-19. Americans of color were more worried about losing their jobs and more likely to have changed or canceled their education plans in 2020 according to Strada Education.
- Overall, 4 out of 10 Americans not enrolled in an education or training program preferred an online and/or employer-based program to advance their education, according to Strada. Among Black and Latino adults, that ratio grows to 5 out of 10. A higher percentage of Black and Latino adults also want their education programs to result in a college degree.
- In Massachusetts, 48 percent of white adults have earned a bachelor degree or higher, whereas only 28 percent of Black/African Americans and 21 percent of Hispanic/Latino citizens have done so, according to the U.S. Census.
- In California, the college wage premium, the difference in wages between college graduates and high school graduates, is at record levels, according to a November 2020 Public Policy Institute of California report.
- Although a majority of California’s low-income, Latino, and African American 9th graders do graduate from high school and enroll in college, most of these students do not end up earning a bachelor’s degree, even though this was their academic goal according to the PPIC report.
Governance of UMass Global
UMass Global will be governed by a 13-member Board of Regents to be announced in the coming weeks. UMass Board of Trustees Chair Robert J. Manning, Chairman of MFS Investment, will serve as the future chair of the UMass Global Board of Regents.
“The launch of UMass Global marks a new milestone in UMass’s mission to create upward economic mobility for people through the power of education,” Manning said. “I am looking forward to serving alongside forward-thinking business, civic, and education leaders who are laser focused on providing adult learners with the skills and knowledge to compete in a fast-changing world.”
A Moody’s analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education released in August 2020 cited the UMass-Chapman-Brandman partnership and underscored the importance of developing quality online education options to strengthen colleges and universities. The report said, ‘Those that can pivot and invest most efficiently in the technology and infrastructure needed to meet changing demand will prevail.’
UMass Global vision endorsed by employers
“UMass Global will be a powerful talent-building engine that will drive upward economic mobility for adult learners, respond to employer needs for skilled workers, and keep Massachusetts companies competitive in a rapidly changing global economy,” said John Regan, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which represents 3,300 employers statewide.
“People are at the heart of every successful business enterprise,” said Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEO Los Angeles County Business Federation (Biz Fed). “What makes UMass Global stand out in the higher education space is its team’s ability to tap into the heartbeat of its talent pipeline, empower its workforce with new advancement opportunities, and understand the unique needs of its employer partners. Having a finger on the pulse of its vast network is how UMass Global matches people with the right services in its suite of high-quality educational offerings.”
“Essential skills are one of the keys to unlocking economic opportunity for people and communities throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts,” said James E. Rooney, President & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “UMass Global is an innovative approach to re-skill and up-skill adult learners and workers, which will keep our region competitive as a global innovation leader.”
“UMass Global will open more opportunity pathways for the Commonwealth’s future talent, a key ingredient for strengthening Massachusetts’ competitiveness and long-term economic prosperity,” said JD Chesloff, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. “The University of Massachusetts is taking an innovative approach to expand access for adult learners, meet the talent needs of employers, and position Massachusetts as competitive within a global economy.”