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Brandman Introduces Geo Info System Certificates

Brandman University, which is geared towards working adults, is unveiling several data analytics certificates this fall to meet the needs of businesses.

The Geographic Information Systems programs teach students how to understand data and location intelligence, form connections and make decisions across topics such as economic development, emergency management, marketing and more. 

“We’re especially excited about the data analytics programs because we think it applies to every type of organization—from government to business to healthcare,” Chancellor Gary Brahm told the Business Journal. 

The certificate programs incorporate capabilities that students can bring to an existing or new job and can be completed in as little as six months to a year, he said. The certificates can also be applied to degree programs at the nonprofit institution.

“We believe employers are looking for these skills,” Brahm said.

There is a growing discrepancy between the skills U.S. workers have and the skills required by U.S. businesses to remain globally competitive, the university said.

Nationally, about 36 million Americans have some college but no degree. Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were roughly eight million working adults in California who could benefit from new skills and knowledge, according to the school’s data.

Fast Food, Public Health

Students in the GIS programs will learn on a popular mapping software platform developed by Redlands-based Environmental Systems Research Institute or ESRI. 

ESRI’s product has been adopted by businesses that use location intelligence such as Taco Bell in Irvine and Starbucks, and Brandman is its first educational partner, according to Sheila Lakshmi Steinberg, who is chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee at Brandman.

Taco Bell, which provides its employees with subsidized tuition to Brandman, uses ESRI’s software to track sales and marketing spend across locations, and make decisions about where to put a new store, she said.

In more recent months, public health agencies and academic institutions have also used the software to monitor virus transmission; Johns Hopkins’ global COVID-19 tracker uses the platform to present data in a digestible format, Steinberg said.

The first-of-its-kind partnership, she said, demonstrates Brandman’s ability to train workers and leaders with resilience, which in turn enables the business community to be more resilient.

Enrollment Gains

Chapman University originally founded the school in 1958 to deliver high-quality education to active service military members, particularly at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. The college was renamed Brandman University in 2009 following a $10 million donation from the Brandman Foundation, which supports more than 100 charities in the U.S. and internationally.

Nowadays, Brandman serves 24,000 students, about 14,000 of whom are degree-seeking students, at 25 physical campuses in California and Washington. Brandman also offers fully online courses for students anywhere in the United States and for military personnel serving abroad. 

More than half of Brandman’s degree-seeking students are among the first in their families to attend college, 40% of undergraduates come from underrepresented backgrounds and 33% are active-duty military or veterans.

The GIS programs launched at a time when more students are unemployed or looking to improve their skills, Brahm said.

“Brandman is seeing an increase in enrollment across its undergraduate, graduate and competency-based programs that allow students to enroll weekly,” Brahm said.

Since moving to remote learning in March, he said Brandman has seen record-high levels of student satisfaction and faculty approval.

About 93% of its students would recommend Brandman to a friend, according to a survey conducted to the end of the spring, Brahm said.

“We expect to see more students enroll in our programs in coming months,” he said, “and we are well-positioned for where the world is going.”

Brandman Inks Deal with University of Massachusetts

Brandman University nearly doubled its reach after scoring a deal with the University of Massachusetts’ online division earlier this year.

UMass, which now supports more than 25,000 students in online classes, said it selected Brandman out of 100 potential partners and will incorporate Brandman’s programs and support services.

“Brandman is destined for national prominence as a leader in education for working adults,” Daniele Struppa, president of Chapman University, said in a statement at the time of the announcement. “When the opportunity to partner with a world-class institution like the University of Massachusetts became a possibility over a year ago, I saw it as an ideal fit to take Brandman to the next level.”

The universities said they also plan to work together to strengthen workforce development partnerships with businesses and colleges.

“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.

Current Brandman partners include Disneyland, Newport-Beach based Chipotle Mexican Grill and Walmart.

The deal will help “even more Americans gain access to affordable, high-quality certificates and degrees,” Brandman Chancellor Gary Brahm said.

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