The University of Indianapolis will have a new leader this July. Incoming president Dr. Tanuja Singh currently serves as the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Loyola University New Orleans. WFYI’s Sydney Dauphinais spoke with Dr. Singh about the changing landscape of higher education, and the increased importance of workforce development for UIndy.
Dauphinais: So what are your plans to attract and recruit more people, more students, to UIndy?
Singh: That's a great question. As you look at the world of higher education, as you look at what kind of talent is being required of students and people who graduate, what we need to do is tell them about the great offerings that UIndy currently has – and the various programs that are very, very much in demand by corporate by government, by not-for-profits. The areas in which there's a lot of growth – we know a lot of those areas. There is a lot of growth in the area of everything related to medicine. Everything related to nursing. Everything related to cybersecurity. Things related to investments, and things related to computer science. Those are the areas that UIndy offers. And we need to be talking about the outcomes and the very, very strong record of our students in those areas to be able to tell our story.
Dauphinais: I know that you have talked about really prioritizing workforce partnerships and community partnerships – can you just talk a little bit about that?
Singh: As our students graduate, but way before they graduate, we want them to have that experience to know what they learn in a classroom is actually translatable in the real world. So from an internship perspective, those are opportunities that happen across the spectrum – whether you are an art historian, whether you are a financial advisor, whether you're a nurse. So internship being the ability to work with companies, and really understanding how that culture – the actual skill sets that are needed – how it works. So that's one type of partnership.
And then, in my previous roles, we always saw that if our students did internships, the probability that they were going to be very heavily recruited by their organization was very, very high. So we are hoping that before they ever graduate from UIndy, they have already established that track record of success and understanding. And by the time they graduate, they have a job. And they have opportunities for a productive career.
Dauphinais: For as long as you've worked in the higher education field, how would you say that this conversation has evolved or shifted the importance of having these partnerships?
It has changed significantly in the years since I began in higher education. I started noticing that the importance of relevant skills was more and more visible. We were talking about people understanding the subject matter and then being able to translate it. But in recent years, as we have seen lots of other players coming into the higher education space who are essentially saying, ‘come to us and we will give you a skill set’ – the need to do that has really become much more significant.
So I would say that in the past 15 years, this idea of partnership, both before graduation, after graduation, very mindful, thoughtful partnership – whether it is to support a program, whether to support a particular discipline – has grown significantly. And I'm confident that this is going to continue to increase. The very intentional connection with the real world is where we don't live in ivory towers, and we work with the communities where we serve and live. It’s going to become increasingly important.
I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today. It's been a pleasure.
Thank you very much. I've enjoyed our conversation.
Contact WFYI economic equity reporter Sydney Dauphinais at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @syddauphinais.