Chapman University Announces Strategic Partnership Between UMass Online and Brandman University

Chapman University today announced the intent to form a strategic partnership between The University of Massachusetts’ online division and Brandman University — a part of the Chapman University System — to expand educational opportunities for the nation’s working adults who want to build their skill sets, as well as for the unemployed and underemployed.

“Brandman is destined for national prominence as a leader in education for working adults. Chapman has taken it as far as we can on our own, and it’s time for Brandman to grow its reach,” said Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa. “When the opportunity to partner with a world-class institution like the University of Massachusetts became a possibility more than a year ago, I saw it as an ideal fit to take Brandman to the next level.”

Chapman originally founded a college in 1958 dedicated to the delivery of high-quality education to active service military. Now a separate university, the college was renamed Brandman University in 2009 and has since evolved into a widely recognized leader in online education currently serving almost 24,000 students, continuing its strong record of serving veterans and a diverse range of adult learners.

“Chapman is proud to have nurtured and developed such a successful and socially relevant institution, and I am personally grateful to Brandman University Chancellor Gary Brahm for his visionary leadership that has led us to this point,” Struppa said.

More than half of Brandman’s degree-seeking students are among the first in their families to attend college, while 40% of undergraduates come from underrepresented backgrounds and 33% are active-duty military or veterans. Despite their many day-to-day challenges, Brandman students excel in online learning. U.S. News & World Report ranked Brandman best in online degree programs from 2012-2019. Military Times has recognized Brandman for its service to veteran students. Among Brandman’s proudest achievements are the prestigious Association of California Community College Administrators award for its service to community colleges, and the Institutional Transformational Award from the American Council on Education.

“We are proud of what we have achieved as part of the Chapman University System. Together, we pioneered the development of a university tailored to the military, veterans and working adults,” Brahm said. “I look forward to partnering with UMass Online and expanding our capacity to accelerate economic recovery by helping even more Americans gain access to affordable, high-quality certificates and degrees.”

Following the successful completion of approvals, the new partnership with the nationally-respected University of Massachusetts will begin a bicoastal effort to serve the millions of Americans who must gain access to high quality college-level certificates and degrees to remain competitive in the workforce. Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were roughly 8 million working adults in California who could benefit from new skills and knowledge to meet the ever-changing demands of a complex, global economy. Today’s high unemployment rates signal that the demand is now much greater. Nationally, about 36 million Americans have some college but no degree, and there is a growing discrepancy between the skills U.S. workers have and the skills required by U.S. businesses to remain globally competitive.

“As our state and national economy is rapidly shifting, we need to do more for adults who are already in the workplace and those who have been displaced to enhance their current skills and develop new ones,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “Quality, affordability and flexibility in higher education are needed now more than ever. After investigating nearly 100 potential partners, we found that Brandman’s mission and quality align best with UMass, and we believe that a partnership will help us deliver for the citizens of the commonwealth and for learners across the globe.”

The strategic partnership is intended to augment UMass Online, which was launched 20 years ago and has grown to 25,000 students. The partnership will strengthen UMass Online’s technology platform and student support services tailored to adult learners. Additionally, the initiative will also streamline efforts to build workforce development partnerships with local and national employers, community colleges, other educational partners, nonprofits, government agencies and the U.S. military.

Critical in the development of the relationship between Chapman, Brandman and UMass was Chapman Board of Trustees Chair Wylie Aitken.

“The visionary leadership of President Struppa has helped bring about a partnership that will have a strong financial impact for Chapman and, undoubtedly, a major impact nationally,” Aitken said. “Under his administration, Chapman has become a top national university and Brandman has risen to a level of success that can now expand even further.”

As a national leader in employer-funded degree programs, Brandman has already developed strong partnerships with major companies, including Discover, Walt Disney Company and Walmart. In addition to strong business partnerships, Brandman provides workforce development solutions to government agencies, healthcare providers and K-12 education systems for which it works to help recruit and retain teachers.

“With Brandman’s longstanding success in the education of working adults and UMass Online’s decades of experience, this partnership – a year in the making – is sure to have a major impact across the country,” said Struppa. “Chapman COO Harold Hewitt is an unsung hero in the development of this relationship and worked tirelessly on a very complex partnership.”

Struppa added that the members of the Chapman Board of Trustees and Brandman Board of Regents have been incredibly supportive and visionary in the development of the partnership.

“Brandman is already a tremendous asset supporting adult higher education in its home states of California and Washington,” said Brandman Board of Regents Chair William Hood. “By forming a strategic partnership with UMass Online, we will raise the bar for online learning in all 50 states. Additionally, Brandman is known for delivering win-win solutions to employers and employees. By coming together, we will be in an even stronger position to help U.S. employers build suitable talent pipelines and upskill their workforce.”

Brandman is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Brandman’s online programs among the best in the nation, including for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. Brandman boasts an 81% graduation completion rate, outranking many of its peers.

About Chapman University
Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a nationally-ranked private university located in Southern California. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 “high research activity” institution and offers personalized education to more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Based in the City of Orange, Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. In 2019, the university opened its 11th college, Fowler School of Engineering, in its newest facility, Keck Center for Science and Engineering. Learn more about Chapman University:

About Brandman University
Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative programs and support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs designed to be relevant to more than 90 career paths. Brandman serves about 22,000 students, about 14,000 of whom are degree-seeking students, at 25 physical campuses in California and Washington, as well as online. Brandman offers fully-online courses for students anywhere in the United States and for military personnel serving abroad. For additional information, visit the university’s website.

About the University of Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts president and Board of Trustees created UMass Online in 2001 to meet the online educational needs of people locally, nationally and internationally by offering accredited educational programs via interactive, Internet-based learning systems. UMass Online has grown to 25,000 students, with more than 150 of the University’s degrees and certificates now available online. With more than 1,500 online courses offered annually, UMass Online is proud to help busy professionals, lifelong learners and students worldwide continue their education, enhance their careers and enrich their lives no matter where they’re located.

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