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Taking Bentley into the Future

Taking Bentley Forward

In a New Role, Otgo Erhemjamts will Focus on Partnerships to Boost the University’s Revenue Growth

Kristen Walsh 

Professor of Finance Otgo Erhemjamts has been appointed to the new role of associate vice president and associate provost for strategic initiatives. Here, she talks about the position and how her background — from Mongolia to the Museum of Science — will help Bentley adapt to the changing landscape of higher education. 

Tell us about your new job.

In my new role, I will be responsible for leading critical growth initiatives, with an initial focus on growing master’s and certificate programs at Bentley. I will work closely with the provost and the vice president for external relations to formulate the university’s approach to strategic growth. Given the rapidly changing nature of the job market and decreasing 18- to 22-year-old demographic, schools are going to see more nontraditional students and adult learners who need to re-skill or up-skill. The traditional model of a one-time college education is no longer a guarantee for long-term success in the workplace. My new position reflects Bentley’s commitment to expand our on-campus programs to online educational offerings that are flexible and able to meet the demands of employers and lifelong learners.

What interests you most about the role?

I am excited because it gives me an opportunity to contribute significantly to the university’s strategic plan and expand Bentley’s name and reputation well beyond our current students and community. Two of the four pillars of the strategic plan are “Fully Integrated Corporate Relations” and “A New Vision for Mastery.” My work on expanding our offerings in online degree programs and certificate programs will be directly relevant to these pillars. The opportunity to develop and translate market research into successful programs, and to catalyze cross-university collaboration for a shared vision, is also very appealing to me.

How will strategic partnerships tie into online education at Bentley?

Partnerships with employers are important to Bentley’s success because many organizations offer education and training to their employees as a benefit. Tapping into that demand in the form of certificate programs that are stackable and flexible will allow students to accumulate courses toward an eventual degree, without having to make a substantial time and financial commitment up front. Thus, partnerships with corporations to support degree pathways for their employees will be more essential than ever. In addition, there is a growing list of online program companies such as EdX, Coursera, 2U, Noodle Partners, Wiley and Pearson, that are partnering with universities to provide a combination of services — from instructional design to marketing to technology to student support — that help schools enter the online education market and scale up. So we will explore forming partnerships with online program companies to positively impact graduate and certificate enrollment in academic year 2020-2021 and beyond.  

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Tell us about your background. How does it relate to this role?

I was born in Mongolia and graduated from a mathematics magnet high school. I studied information technology in college and worked for a data communications company. I came to the United States to study economics and eventually earned a PhD in finance. Due to my STEM and finance background, my teaching and research have spanned multiple disciplines, including corporate finance, banking, risk management and insurance, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable investing. At Bentley, I created a new course called Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing, which focuses on integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into investment decisions. This course helped spur a new student club for sustainable investing as well as a minor in Sustainable Investing. These curricular and extracurricular experiences will help Bentley develop business leaders with an awareness of how ESG issues can impact the value of their assets. I am also collaborating with colleagues from the Natural and Applied Sciences Department on an a project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop sustainability curricula that integrate STEM and business disciplines. My interdisciplinary view of the world and zeal for curricular innovation are critical to this new role because it requires close collaboration with stakeholders across Bentley.

What are your interests outside of work?

There is a common thread between my outside interests and my work in the classroom: supporting women in male-dominated fields. I have been studying and working in such fields, including mathematics, engineering, economics and finance, and I recognize the importance of female role models for young women. I serve on the board of the Museum of Science in Boston, as co-chair of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) committee. That involves working with fellow committee members to inspire, engage and empower women and girls in STEM. We organize and support programs such as the WISE speaker series, WISE mentoring evening and Education Day to help young women gain confidence to succeed.