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Expansion of the Open Lab, a University-Industry Model for Undergraduates

Bridger, Amy E (2021) Expansion of the Open Lab, a University-Industry Model for Undergraduates. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Higher education is facing declining enrollments, a public that questions its value, and diminishing government support. Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, proposes a differentiating university-industry strategy that increases its competitiveness. Known as the Open Lab, this strategy embraces industry as stakeholders in the education of its primarily undergraduate population. The Open Lab has the potential to increase Behrend's market share of a shrinking demographic, return-on-investment for graduates, and diversified funding sources for research. Though successful in its pilot phase, the effort has yet to gain broad support, and without campus-wide implementation, the Open Lab cannot meet its potential.
This improvement project included three components. First, I worked with campus leadership to develop communication opportunities and identify metrics to track implementation. Second, at a Town Hall-style event, I presented the case for the Open Lab Strategy. Participants completed surveys at the beginning and end of the Town Hall to gauge changes in employees’ level of understanding of the strategy. The third component, a working group session, identified opportunities to better engage with external constituents.
Following the Town Hall, 87% of participants reported improvement in their knowledge of the Open Lab, and53% expected to change some aspect of their work as a result of the Town Hall. The actionable ideas developed in the working group integrated into an existing, ongoing Corporate and Community Connections group. These discussions are ongoing: While Behrend faculty and staff agree at a macro level on the benefits of the Open Lab, the success or failure of implementation depends on the micro-level actions and interactions that support or detract from the effort.
Although we successfully communicated the need for the Open Lab, this did not translate into the anticipated behavioral change. For example, while external messaging is rich in Open Lab content, the Behrend website did not feature practical Open Lab messaging or demonstrate participation by the leadership team. Future efforts likely will target campus leadership and faculty who are predisposed to industry engagement. Continued work is needed to ensure consistent support by leadership and align policies and practices that support university-industry engagement.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bridger, Amy Eaeb156@pitt.eduaeb156
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAkiva, Thomas
Committee MemberFord, Ralph
Committee MemberFerketish, B.
Date: 31 August 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 May 2021
Approval Date: 31 August 2021
Submission Date: 19 July 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 104
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: university industry economic development organizational change strategy
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2021 17:22
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 17:22


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