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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is Academic Partnerships?

For more than 20 years, the founders of Academic Partnerships have devoted their lives to increasing access to high-quality instruction, supporting educators and helping students succeed. In 2005, they focused exclusively on post-secondary education, believing in its most profound impact on people’s futures. As institutions outgrew the physical capacity of their campuses, distance learning was added to accommodate the surging demand for higher education in the region. Academic Partnerships helps universities achieve and go beyond their goals in online program development, student marketing and recruitment, and student retention through graduation.

Academic Partnerships works with 50+ public universities to enable them to achieve their online program goals, and recruits students (working professionals) in target markets and from a growing network of 3,000+ employer partners.

Why is Minnesota State Mankato considering working with an organization such as Academic Partnerships?

Minnesota State Mankato is exploring a partnership with an organization such as Academic Partnerships for several reasons important to our University, including:

  • To meet increasing professional demand and standards in selected fields or professions, and to serve working professionals who need additional education in high demand fields
  • To provide an infrastructure and a business model, as requested and articulated by some departments or programs through our Integrated Academic Planning Process, to grow their extended education and online programs
  • To provide a solution and remove barriers for essential clinical placements and student experiences, through new and expanded partnerships with healthcare, business, and educational entities
  • To increase enrollment, retention, and completion, important to our University’s growth and sustainability
  • To increase our capacity and expertise in key areas for growing extended education and serving new students, such as working professionals who currently are unable to enroll in campus-based programs
  • To expand professional development opportunities and research support for faculty, such as Academic Partnerships faculty research grants and online teaching and learning resources
  • To be the lead institution in Minnesota and the region in capturing a growing population of qualified and diverse students in high-demand programs

What are the academic degree programs or departments that are being considered for participation in this opportunity?

Organizations such as Academic Partnerships’ partners with universities to meet national high demand for foundational programs. Minnesota State Mankato is considering a pilot in the area of healthcare (RN to BS Nursing).

With faculty, department, and college consultation and support, potential future areas may include additional programs in healthcare (FNP, DNP), education (MEd), and business (MBA).

What are the key functions or services that an organization, such as Academic Partnerships, will provide? And what does the University continue to provide?

Academic Partnerships’ primary mission is to help partner universities – primarily public universities – expand access and affordability to high-quality higher education through online delivery of instruction. To achieve this mission, Academic Partnerships’ core competencies or functions are:

  • Academic Services (instructional design assistance, ‘carousel building’ course delivery, faculty support and research grant opportunities, etc.)
  • Marketing and Student Recruitment (traditional, digital and field marketing; data analytics and search engine optimization; creative content, website/landing pages, and copywriting; employer-based partnerships, etc.)
  • Student Retention (retention campaigns, engagement strategies, analytics, academic coaching, etc.)
  • Partner Integration and Technology Support (systems integration, process optimization, project management)

However, Academic Partnerships’ comprehensive services will be customized to meet our University’s unique needs and goals.

Minnesota State Mankato roles and strengths remain with the University, and specifically any item that has an impact on academic and program quality, including:

  • Admission standards
  • Admission decisions
  • Program curriculum
  • Instruction
  • Conferral of grades and degrees
  • Intellectual property

Will I have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed partnership with an organization such as Academic Partnerships?

Campus Information & Listening Sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, January 19, 2016 from 10:00 – 11:30 am in Ostrander Auditorium; and Friday, January 29, 2016 from 10:30 – 12:00 noon in Ostrander Auditorium. Opportunities for online comment and feedback will be available at 

What is the role of sub-meets, such as the University Extended Education, Planning, Assessment & Evaluation, and Budget in consultation and decision-making?

The University Extended Education, Planning, and Assessment & Evaluation Sub-Meets are an important part of our shared governance process. The Sub-Meets have a collaborative role in helping to guide and shape our University’s directions and decision-making. Therefore, each of these sub-meets will participate in consultation, planning, and decision-making around a potential partnership and pilot with an organization such as Academic Partnerships in the specific areas related to their respective role and responsibilities.

How does a potential partnership with an organization such as Academic Partnerships connect with Charting the Future for a Prosperous Minnesota and our new Academic Master Plan 2015 - 2018?

A potential pilot with an organization such as Academic Partnerships aligns with and is placed within the context of the core commitments articulated within Charting the Future for a Prosperous Minnesota:

  • Ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans
  • Be the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs
  • Deliver to students, employers, communities and taxpayers the highest value/most affordable higher education option

Additionally, in our Integrated Academic Master Planning Process, departments, programs, and faculty were asked to identify academic programs for growth as well as those for potential partnerships and extended education, which are articulated in the published Academic Master Plan 2015 – 2018 launched in August 2015.

What is the time frame and process for consultation and decision-making on a proposed partnership with an organization such as Academic Partnerships?

A partnership with an organization such as Academic Partnerships will be multi-faceted, with opportunities and considerations for all divisions of the University and bargaining units. To assure broad consultation, while proceeding with due diligence, multiple activities will occur simultaneously over the next few months (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr) to determine the feasibility of a partnership. Examples of activities in this consultative process will include: information shared at Meet and Confer; Campus Information & Listening Sessions; site visits by Academic Partnerships staff on matters such as technology integration; and system level consultation on a proposed agreement. This time frame and process for consultation is anticipated to enable decision-making by the end of the Spring 2016 semester.

What is the general process in place to engage bargaining units and for securing answers to questions poised from bargaining units and others?

Besides the Sub Meet & Confer process, there will be work groups launched to explore Academic Partnerships in a more in-depth manner and to seek answers to questions posed from the bargaining units and others. Current identified work group areas include: Academic Model Work Group, Recruitment & Admissions Work Group, Persistence & Completion Work Group, and IT Data/ Field Mapping Requirements Work Group.

What type of experience would a student have who enrolled in a program supported by an organization such as Academic Partnerships?

A student enrolled in a program would receive ongoing communications via phone, text and email throughout completion of the program. Examples of interactions include:

  • Screening student qualifications for admission
  • Application walk-through
  • Deadline reminders
  • Support in document collection and submission
  • Assistance in post-acceptance registration
  • Help with first-course preparations

In addition, Academic Partnerships provides a student support model, which pairs a dedicated Student Success Coordinator with students for the duration of the degree program.

If a decision is made to pursue a third party vendor such as Academic Partnerships how will the RFP be created and processed?

Criteria will be developed to address expectations and responsibilities around key components and areas such as Academic Services, Marketing and Student Recruitment, Student Retention, and Partner Integration Support. RFPs of significant value are vetted through the Planning Sub Meet and Confer. In addition, the University needs approval from Minnesota State for service amounts over $100,000. Once approval is received, FPC will send out RFP that is written up by authorized representative from MSU. FPC will advertise and send out to suggested vendors. RFP template: