August 15. 2015 5:27PM

SNHU announces partnership with military group

Sunday News Correspondent

Adam Schumacher, Class of 2014, was a military student at SNHU. (SNHU courtesy photo)

Because they served their country, Southern New Hampshire University is taking another step to help serve military personnel in the classroom, announcing a new partnership with Warrior Transition Technology Training to provide education, professional certification and job placement for military personnel through a new undergraduate information technology (IT) program.

“For many veterans, getting a college degree represents a very great change for them and opens up new possibilities,” Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, said Monday. “We’re leveraging the discipline, skills, and work ethic (military personnel) have, and then giving them the skills and expertise in Oracle database administration so they can have a new career.”

What’s involved

The new partnership is among three entities:

• Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a nonprofit regionally-accredited university in Manchester and Hooksett with 55,000 students both on campus and online.

• Warrior Transition Technology Training (WT3), an organization dedicated to providing returning US Military servicemembers with a path to information technology (IT) education, certification and job placement.

• Oracle Academy, an IT educational company that provides software, curricula, support and certification resources for teaching use.

Students participating in the partnership will be enrolled in a new undergraduate database administration concentration within the Bachelor of Science Information Technology (IT) program.

The concentration, which is also available to civilians, focuses on the development, implementation and administration of database systems as well as providing an understanding of database languages, according to an announcement from the university.

Participants will use materials from Oracle Academy in coursework and training exercises and, in addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, can sit for three exams to become an Oracle Certified Professional in database administration.

WT3 will provide military students with career guidance, will pay for the certification exams and help military graduates find jobs.

WT3 cofounder Chris Nichol said this program is a great match for military veterans and current servicemembers.

“A lot of these folks coming out of the service have mechanical and technical capabilities, maybe not IT experience necessarily, but have worked on missile systems, replaced boards on robotics systems, and (that experience) lends itself to this work,” Nichol said Tuesday. “In the IT world, there is 20 percent year-over-year growth rate for database administrators, and both my partner and I have years of experience in (the IT world) so it’s where we saw biggest impact in jobs for servicemembers.”

Adding collaborators

The program is the latest partnership for SNHU, which just two weeks ago announced a partnership to provide educational opportunities for players and staff of Major League Soccer.

LeBlanc said the university has used partnerships as a way to increase its reach to underserved populations and to directly align its curricula with employer needs — two things that have become increasingly important as the business model of the typical “college experience” has changed.

“The traditional delivery models were largely built for 17- and 18-year olds who were coming to a campus and looking to have that ‘college’ life experience,” LeBlanc said. “But that’s the minority today. Today I think there’s far more pressure for institutions to have curricula aligned with workforce needs.”

Instruction also no longer needs to be delivered in a lecture hall over four consecutive years.

There is that option, of course, with the Hooksett campus that has about 3,000 students. But the majority of SNHU students take classes online, and LeBlanc noted that these students are often “students for whom college is not a guarantee” — for instance, students who can’t or couldn’t afford the “typical” residential private college experience; adult learners who have a full-time job, a family and have some college credits but never completed a degree; and members of the military who are often returning from active duty with valuable experiences, GI Bill benefits and are looking to adjust to the civilian world.

“Fundamentally, online education works better for adults,” LeBlanc said.

Most of the partnerships involve online learning. So professional soccer players can take classes after practice. Musicians at Berklee College of Music can gain a Master’s of Business Administration in Music Business after spending hours in the practice room.

Work at home

Parents who work at one of more than 65 companies including Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield can tuck the kids into bed before logging online to the College for America program. In this program, they can earn college credits by demonstrating competency through specific projects, learning at their own pace to master skills. The participating businesses’ benefits often pay the $2,500 tuition for the program.

These efforts to cater to individual groups’ needs appealed to Nichol. In fact, in developing WT3, he said he spent a lot of time researching which universities servicemembers were attending to study technology. He said Southern New Hampshire University was a common answer.

“It’s really their commitment to our active and returning U.S. servicemembers,” Nichol said of the university. “They’ve really gone out of their way to develop a program that cares about the veterans, and cares about the active military in ways that other universities haven’t made happen.”