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Bentley on Bloomberg: Why Higher Education Needs a New Kind of Curriculum
After a decade of lessons learned as president of Bentley University, Gloria Larson shares the details for a type of college experience she believes all 21st century graduates need in her new book, PreparedU: How Innovative Colleges Drive Student Success.
Larson shares how the next generation of students deserves an education that feeds both their left and right brains and incorporates technical skills like data analysis with communication and critical thinking. To achieve this, it’s imperative for higher ed and industry to work closely together to inform what students are learning in the classroom so that their skills match the needs of the workplace.
Bentley President Gloria Larson joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar, along with guest experts, to talk about how universities are implementing innovative curricula to meet market demands, how graduates are using their hybrid skills in the workplace, and what skills companies really want when hiring new graduates. Here are excerpts from the show.
Going Beyond Technical Skills
Business leaders have challenged business educators to enhance the content of their curriculum. Now they want graduates with much more than technical skills. Yes, business graduates still have to understand finance, marketing, and various technologies, but they also need to develop more deeply the skills traditionally associated with the liberal arts—communication, empathy, creativity, esthetics, and psychological insight—because those skills are equally important. Businesses of all kinds need people who can cross traditional boundaries, because innovation of all kinds is the key to delivering value in a globalized world. Learning to innovate has to be a foundation of preparing for a career.
We strongly believe the purpose of higher education is definitely not just about getting a job. We need to help students by asking probing questions about their hopes and dreams and building their core values, and strengths. Students often come to our career services office to ask how they can weave career planning into their overall experience and find out what truly interests them. When students arrive at Bentley as first-year students, they immediately take a strengths finder assessment through Gallup to learn what their strengths and weakness are and how to harness that knowledge for the next four years.
I'm a big fan of Satya Nadella's concept of a “learn it all” versus a “know it all.” We want to attract people at HubSpot who are lifelong learners because both Dharmesh (Hubspot co-founder) and I consider ourselves first and foremost students. I like to hire people who want to be the best at getting better at whatever it is they do, so I would highly encourage graduates to keep their appetite for learning long after their formal education is over. Students should also focus on rapidly converting what they know into something they do. That’s what makes them valuable to a company.
Breaking Down the Silos of College Majors
Before deciding to attend a business university, I was caught between wanting to major in finance or engineering. It wasn’t until I got to Bentley that I realized it didn’t have to be an either or. While the major on my degree says finance, I supplemented my business course work with courses in the Natural and Applied Sciences Department. I was able to combine my finance skills with my background in the liberal arts to choose a career in the energy industry. I saw first-hand how my diverse academic experience turned into value in the real-world.
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.