NCU’s Strategic
Partnership Program

Benefits Companies, Organizations and Students

Written by Judy Tierney

Halfway through our conversation with Jared Loson and Heather Millward, it becomes clear that their own partnership is likely an important factor driving the success of Northcentral University’s Strategic Partnership Program. Through their passionate interchange, often finishing each other’s sentences, the two NCU Strategic Partnership Managers exhibit a unique camaraderie and commitment to serving the organizations and companies that become “partners” of the University and receive preferred tuition rates and other benefits for their members and employees.

Heather Millward and Jared Loson

Greg Pollack

Loson and Millward, along with Greg Pollack, the program’s senior director, manage relationships with nearly 100 partners, including the National Education Association (NEA), FedEx, United Airlines, the Arizona Police Association and NCU’s own parent organization, the Rockbridge Equity Group and its family of companies. There’s no limitation on the quantity of NCU partners. “Rather,” Millward explains, “it’s about quality and fostering relationships that are mutually beneficial.”

“We target companies with a direct affiliation or a direct need for our program,” adds Loson, citing the NEA as an example. “We have a School of Education, and NEA members are all educators, so it’s a perfect match. We have a unique product to bring to their organization.”

NCU’s strategic partnership program can be a great fit for organizations and companies that have a large number of employees or members with college degrees who are interested in furthering their education. NCU offers advanced degrees in business, education, psychology, and marriage and family sciences, all taught through a one-to-one learning model by professors who have doctoral degrees. The unparalleled flexibility of the online program enables students all over the world to attend a regionally accredited university on their own schedule, from any location.

To align with the University’s goal of growing student enrollment, NCU seeks partners that value education and encourage it. “As an employee, when you join a company, you look at all the benefits that a company offers,” says Millward. “It’s a great selling point for companies to tell potential employees that they assist you with going back to school.”

In addition to offering reduced tuition rates, NCU works closely with each of its partners to promote the program to their employees or members. The team develops customized marketing plans to meet the needs of the partner, incorporating elements such as advertising, email campaigns, or jointly attending and exhibiting at events and conferences.

“It’s important that our educational alliances fit the individual needs of each partner, so we work hard to understand their unique situations.”

Greg Pollack, Senior Director, Strategic Partnership Program

Ensuring the best customer service also means facilitating execution for the partner and making it as easy as possible for employees or members to access information and enroll at NCU. These streamlined processes can include building personalized websites for partners, providing dedicated phone numbers and advisors to assist students, or setting up a direct bill payment system so that a partner can directly pay for the student’s tuition.

“It’s important that our educational alliances fit the individual needs of each partner, so we work hard to understand their unique situations,” emphasizes Pollack. “The continued success of this program depends on actively engaging with the organizations we serve to maximize opportunities for students and prospective students.”

Although each manager works directly with specific partners, Loson and Millward make a concerted effort to know what all of the program’s partners are doing. With Pollack’s support, they play off of each other’s strengths.

“It’s a great thing about a partnership,” says Loson. “If I need her to step in somewhere, she knows where to pick up and vice versa.”

In everything they do, one thing is clear. The team views its dedication to students as their first priority, whether it’s traveling to a partner site to host a "lunch and learn session," meeting students at an event or returning a phone call or an email. “We are all about the student, and our partners know how passionate we are,” says Loson. “They see how we interact with the students, and I think that’s what keeps them happy.”

“We make it a priority to let our partners know about these great opportunities, including the eight $20,000 NCU Kick-Starter grants that were awarded to new students in April.”

Jared Loson

Loson adds that NCU offers new scholarships and grants programs to help students. “We make it a priority to let our partners know about these great opportunities, including the eight $20,000 NCU Kick-Starter Grants that were awarded to new students in April.”

“The NCU Kick-Starter Grants were designed to support students in pursuit of their dreams, such as funding a research study, launching a new business, or starting a nonprofit,” says Pollack. “In this spirit, our team is also embarking on identifying new organizations and companies with whom we can partner to help kick-start opportunities for our future leaders.”

If you or your employer/organization are interested in finding out more about an educational alliance through NCU’s Strategic Partnership Program, please contact us at alliances@ncu.edu.