Effective Corporate Relationships at the University of Virginia
from the U.Va. Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations
Companies achieve success when their contacts and relations with the University are well organized. They have a clear contact person in a leadership position, usually a campus manager, an experienced team, are knowledgeable about the institution, have developed programs with shared objectives, have a key executive assigned, and seek out beneficial strategic interactions. Below are some of the strategies that distinguish effective corporate relationships with U.Va.
Continuity of Presence.
Relationships are strongest when corporate representatives to U.Va. have been in their positions longest and when their companies have a continuing presence on Grounds.*
Effective companies have active team members who come to the University regularly, speak in classes, serve on advisory boards, fund relevant programs, and creatively explore opportunities to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Take a Strategic Approach to the University.
Because universities and companies have multiple entry points, coordination is critical. The best and most productive partnerships begin with and build on an active and successful recruiting program that involves schools across the Grounds.
Encourage alumni to help make the relationship thrive.
Many strong relationships revolve around active, highly placed alumni. However, other relationships need to develop around this core for companies to achieve long-term viability and presence.
Distinguish between recruiting and university relations.
Companies come to U.Va. most often for recruiting purposes, followed by research activities. However, many companies delegate institutional relationships to recruiting personnel, who are often in junior positions where the turnover is high. Effective companies keep the same executives assigned to university relations to ensure continuity.
Value universities as partners and as suppliers of a company's most important resource - people with knowledge.
Effective companies value universities for the expertise they supply, and they cultivate the people who supply it as much as they do their other key suppliers of materials, components and services. They think of us as partners. They craft joint agendas, are open in their communication, and are involved in research affiliate and partner programs.
Invest in the relationship
Effective companies make meaningful and targeted gifts as part of a strong university- relations-building program. Some companies make annual grants, fund scholarships, make periodic major gifts, provide new equipment and software, and support the upgrading or construction of laboratories and facilities.
Have solid recruiting and research practices.
Effective companies maintain an active dialogue with career services staff, use young alumni as part of the team, get to know students through internship and co-op programs, make an effort to know faculty, and work toward mutually valuable research practices or relationships.
Building commitment into the relationship.
Effective companies have teams who are committed to the University, beginning with a senior manager who makes and keeps commitments. They show their support and interest many ways, always assuring there is mutual benefit and satisfaction.
*Effective company representatives soon learn that the U.Va. "campus" is called "the Grounds". In addition, Freshmen, Sophomores, etc. are known here as First-Year, Second-Year, etc. students.