Adult learners seated at graduation ceremony

Recently, Averett University partnered with four different businesses around the Commonwealth in an effort to grow and develop its Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program. The GPS program offers a non-traditional track for adults to get a college degree or continue their education.

The four new partnerships ­– Keystone Academic Solution, BayPort Credit Union, Planet Fitness and the John Randolph Medical Center – bring the total number of GPS partnerships to eight. Ron Lonzo, executive director of GPS enrollment, says each partnership is chosen because the employer wants to help their employees grow professionally and personally. The combined efforts of Averett and its partners allows for organizations to provide an education option at a lower cost.

Keystone Academic Solution, in Fornebu, Norway, will allow Averett to expand its online student base to overseas markets. The company is at the forefront of higher education marketing, recruitment and student enrollment.

“An increased international student base will provide our current and future GPS students with a lot more diversity. They are going to see a whole different international approach to business because the students overseas taking courses are going to be put into the same classes with students here in the U.S. through video conferencing. We are working across the cultural-divide in the classroom,” Lonzo said.

BayPort Credit Union, in Tidewater and Hampton Roads, Va., is what Lonzo calls a “good mission fit.” In addition to giving funds and volunteer hours, BayPort plays a significant role in financial education through student-run credit unions, onsite workshops and seminars, and interactive, online tools. This partnership allows employees, their spouses and dependent children, the ability to take advantage of the partnership tuition discount.

“BayPort Credit Union is seriously focused on the financial education of young adults. Their motto is, ‘people helping people,’ and that fits with how we think. They are a very giving organization, as they give back to the community in many ways throughout the Tidewater area,” Lonzo said.

Planet Fitness, in Danville and Martinsville, is waiving the startup fee and the first month will be free to all Averett GPS students who sign up for a gym membership. Throughout the year, Averett GPS will staff a table at the gym to give out information and set times to talk further about GPS programs.

“We are thrilled that our Averett GPS students will be able to work on their body and mind at the same time. Our Planet Fitness partnership allows GPS students to achieve a more affordable cost,” said Katherine Pappas, associate director, GPS.

The partnership with John Randolph Medical Center, in Colonial Heights and Hopewell, Va., is working to grow and expand the University’s nursing program. The team can now market Averett’s GPS program directly to their employees.

“It is Averett’s goal to promote partnerships with entities who want to develop and enhance skills of employees by encouraging education. Our partnership with John Randolph Medical Center will cultivate interest in our RN/BSN program, as well as Averett’s business programs,” Pappas said.

The GPS team has specific qualities they look for in partnerships including: excellence in partnership support; effective and efficient education; breaking the trend in increasing student debt; promotion of programs offered online and face-to-face; and strategic growth and brand excellence.

Each partnership goal is to develop a tuition reimbursement plan to reduce debt, which is working towards the greater goal of meeting students where they are in life, and helping them excel.

Lonzo says the GPS team is working to build 30 partnerships across the Commonwealth in the coming years.


Read more about our Partnerships