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University Partnership Program opens door to CDC employees

A new alliance between Emory and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will offer discounted tuition to HHS employees and their immediate family members in select University degree programs this fall.

The HHS University Partnership Program was created after HHS representatives contacted Emory officials looking for new ways to offer accredited, flexible educational opportunities to their employees — particularly those who work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which neighbors the campus along Clifton Road.

"Over the years, we've been offering a small number of very good courses at the CDC for employees — we already had a connection through Emory's Continuing Education Program — but it was clear that they were also interested in taking things in a new direction, including masters degree programs," says Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost for undergraduate and continuing education, deputy to the provost and biology professor.

Zimmerman calls the partnership "a really good fit" that arose naturally between the institutions, with a focus on graduate and professional level programs that could prove especially useful to HHS employees while creating new streams of revenue for the University.

Not only do the initial program offerings target professional development opportunities for HHS employees in areas of law, business, bioethics, computer science and nursing, the partnership also opens up a potential student pool of more than 12,000 experienced, educated professionals for Emory.

Through the new alliance, tuition discounts will be available to HHS employees in the following programs:

  • Emory University School of Law: Juris Master degree

  • Laney Graduate School: MA in bioethics, MS in computer science

  • Goizueta Business School: Evening MBA, Weekend Executive MBA and Modular Executive MBA

  • Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing: BSN and MSN

Those eligible to participate include HHS employees and contractors, and their immediate family members, including spouses, domestic partners, siblings and children. The Emory Admissions Office can help verify HHS eligibility.

Partnership offers groundwork for growth

Though the alliance is unusual, Zimmerman sees potential for future program developments. "It's really just the tip of the iceberg about the kind of partnerships that might exist," she says. "There is a tremendous potential for further educational partnerships with the CDC," she adds. "I think it's a win-win for both sides."

"They have a large number of employees who are already very educated and interested in continuing that education in a variety of different ways," Zimmerman continues. "And we have so many strong connections with CDC scientists. Many people who work there also teach in the School of Public Health, and our students often do research internships there."

Laney Graduate School Dean Lisa Tedesco said the graduate school is "delighted to partner with the HHS University Partnership Program to offer discounted tuition rates to HHS employees admitted to the MS in computer science and MA in bioethics."

"Many of our programs have informal relationships with the CDC, and we hope that the (alliance) will provide a mechanism for continued and expanded collaboration with CDC and other HHS units," Tedesco adds.

Lynell Cadray, assistant dean for enrollment and student affairs at the School of Nursing, calls the arrangement "a natural partnership" that will offer advantages to both Emory and the HHS department.

"Many CDC employees have research backgrounds and many are interested in coming back to get nursing degrees," she says. "We're hoping to accommodate a need that's already there and to bring in some gifted people with good backgrounds in research and health care. It's a good marriage and good for us."

Based on past enrollment of CDC employees in both evening and executive MBA programs at Goizueta Business School, leaders there view the HHS alliance as a way to both increase accessibility to management education and enrich the overall classroom experience.

"As students evaluate business strategies and operational issues in the health care industry, their unique perspective can add a great deal to the classroom conversation," says Kathleen Edwards, senior associate director of MBA admissions at Goizueta Business School.  

At Emory Law, the partnership was seen as an opportunity to promote its innovative new Juris Master degree program, a 24-credit-hour program being launched this fall for working professionals, graduate students and select undergraduates who want legal training and an understanding of legal principles, and want to learn more about the law within their chosen profession, according to Dean Robert Schapiro.

"An understanding of legal principles is increasingly important in a growing number of fields," Schapiro says.

"It is important to think of law schools as not only training lawyers, but as providing a broad legal education to both lawyers and non-lawyers," he adds. "Professionals in business, technology, journalism, engineering, politics, and health care increasingly benefit from a grounding in the law applicable to their areas."

The Juris Master degree is "highly customizable," which could be useful to CDC employees, adds Lynn Labuda, director of graduate programs at the law school It can either be pursued full- or part-time, with up to four years allowed for completion, and can be applied to a range of disciplines.

Of the 24 students who began the program this fall, 18 will be pursuing their degrees part-time with six enrolled as full-time students, says Labuda, adding that it can also provide a good way to "test-drive" law school for those who want to explore whether law school is the right option for them.

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