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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2020 Making An Impact

Alumnus Mark Hansen Tapped to Build Carson Corporate Engagement Program

Story by Sue McMurray • Photos by Carson College of Business

“Great business education cannot be restricted to a textbook, a lecture, or even a laboratory. It is a living partnership between thought leaders in industry and academia.”

This premise, coined by Mark Hansen (’84 Mktg.), is what drives his new role as the Carson College’s senior director of corporate engagement. Hansen is the first to serve in this position created last fall by Chip Hunter, Carson College dean.

The purpose of the position is to drive corporate partnerships resulting in hires, internships, online enrollment, philanthropy, and sponsorships.

“Very few can come close to duplicating Mark’s years of commitment and service to the college,” says Hunter. “With his corporate background in financial services, he is the obvious choice to help us develop this critical component of the college’s overall strategic plan.”

Exploring Ways to Create Reciprocal Value

According to marketing experts, the best partnerships between nonprofits and for profits are relationships in which both organizations benefit from the program. Hansen is actively working with a number of companies to determine a value proposition for each, based on an understanding of their hiring goals, use of online MBA programs, investment capacity, and what they think about Carson students’ preparedness for the workplace.

“The college has a unique opportunity to provide ongoing education to our graduates and other aspiring executives,” he says. “We have an impressive array of skills, experiences, and talent to offer, which are sorely needed in today’s changing business landscapes. We must present these capabilities in the best light.”

As a way forward, Hansen is focusing on primary areas of opportunity, beginning with showcasing Carson students’ skills and talents more often. Company executives who come to campus are impressed with Carson students, says Hansen. “We need to facilitate productive and efficient ways to increase companies’ access to our classrooms.”

A second approach includes showcasing companies to students and college stakeholders. Exclusive naming rights in Todd Hall—including floors and rooms, endowed professorships, and displaying corporate branding in the building and at signature events across the state are ways companies can have a larger presence.

Hansen also aims for the college to improve sponsorship packages companies may find particularly attractive. For example, a Power Breakfast sponsorship could include preferred access to students and incentives for online MBA tuition for their executives. Customized curricula, research projects, and speaking opportunities could be other areas of value for a firm, he says.

Creating a Future of Living Partnerships

In his first few months on the job, Hansen consulted with Cheryl Oliver, associate dean of professional programs, and Pearson, the college’s third-party provider of online graduate services, about ongoing efforts to double the online MBA program enrollment. This spring, the program met a milestone of 1,000 enrolled students.

Over the next year, he aims to work with Oliver to identify five corporate partners to enroll several of their employees in the online MBA program. Additionally, he and the Carson Center’s career team will collaborate to develop strategies to raise Carson undergraduates’ job placement rates to over 90 percent six months after graduation.

Ultimately, Hansen will work with Carson College members to identify and secure 20 corporate partners by 2022 and lay the groundwork for a permanent point person to coordinate an overall corporate approach for the college. Until then, Hansen is happy to hold the reins.

“It’s not often the case when you can directly marry your passion to your talents,” he says. “What excites me the most is opening doors of opportunities for students and bringing strategic rigor to all that we do in the college.”