PLYMOUTH — Helping businesses and non-profit organizations achieve success while giving students real-world experience is the goal of Plymouth State University's newly created Center for Business and Community Partnerships. The newly created endeavor, formerly known as the Center for Rural Partnerships, focuses PSU's research, outreach and educational capacities on advancing collaborative, reciprocal projects that support regional industry while contributing to student engagement and faculty development.
"We're connecting important campus projects and initiatives with the needs of industry and the community," said partnership Director Ben Amsden. "Faculty research, student capacity and service learning are resources we have the ability to share. By creating partnerships with for- and non-profit businesses, we can help grow the economy, support the academic and personal growth of our students and contribute to the sustainability of Plymouth State."
The partnership will focus specifically on the relationship between higher education and industry, and the ability to create mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge and resources. Faculty and students will be regarded by industry as partners, ready to help generate ideas and solve problems.
"The new Center for Business and Community Partnerships builds upon the legacy of the Center for Rural Partnerships and the Institute for New Hampshire Studies," said Thad Guldbrandsen, vice provost for research and engagement.
The re-visioning of the Center was proposed by PSU President Donald Birx and comes at a time when the University is undergoing its own transformation. To meet the evolving needs of 21st century learners, the University has begun the process of reorganizing around seven strategic clusters that will work across traditional, disciplinary boundaries. The clusters will be functional areas in which faculty and students will collaborate with industry on issues of scientific, intellectual, social, economic, environmental and cultural importance. Birx's goal is for the CBCP to play a leading role in these collaborations, making the work of Plymouth State more visible, accessible and valuable to the region.
"There's a real need for universities to intersect with their surrounding communities, both in non-profits and industry," Birx noted. "The synergy is incredibly powerful and the opportunities created are transformative — for ourselves, our students, and our community. Using the CBCP to engage with businesses will create a more vibrant regional economy."
The endeavor will initially create partnerships focused on sponsored research, information transfer and field-based education. Faculty, working closely with industry partners, will have opportunities to bring their research and innovation to market. Students, through service learning and internships, will develop skills and make relationships that will be of value to their careers.
"We believe strongly in the power of engaged scholarship," said Amsden. "Students, faculty and businesses—everyone will benefit when we work together."
"PSU remains committed to the well-being of northern New Hampshire and rural communities across the state," added Guldbrandsen. "Non-profit organizations and government agencies will continue to be important partners for us. The center's new direction reflects a greater emphasis on developing private sector partnerships."
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