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Education Initiatives Push Nashville, TN Academics Forward

Nashville has many programs designed to better prepare students for good careers.

By Laura Hill on May 20, 2014

Nashville, TN
Nashville / Jeffrey S. Otto

Nashville is Music City, so it’s fitting that Belmont University has become the only university in the nation to establish a College of Entertainment and Music Business.

“We develop programs that serve the Nashville community,” says Thomas Burns, provost of Belmont University. “That’s why a few years ago we started a pharmacy degree program because there weren’t any such programs in Nashville. We live in one of the health care capitals of the world, but every pharmacist in Nashville had previously come from somewhere else. However, now we have a College of Pharmacy.”

The university has also established a College of Law and a motion pictures program to serve fields growing in the region.

“The governor and mayor want Nashville to be a bigger player in the entertainment industry, so we hired Will Akers to direct our motion pictures program,” Burns says. “Will has written screenplays and TV scripts and earned his degree from the University of Southern California, which teaches the most highly regarded film curriculum in the world. Belmont is designing a building that will eventually house our motion pictures program, media studies and the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.”

Interdisciplinary Programs, Training

Lipscomb University helps prepare graduates for the local job market through its College of Professional Studies, which trains students in 15 core competencies to fulfill the skill needs desired by local companies.

“Students in the College of Professional Studies earn performance ‘badges’ during their time at Lipscomb for developing attributes such as life and professional experiences as well as personal and behavioral skills, and those achievements are posted electronically for any potential employer to study,” says Dr. Charla Long, College of Professional Studies dean. “It’s an innovative way for students to demonstrate their competencies on what they have accomplished and what they know, based on a Fortune 500-proven program called the Polaris Competency Model.”

Many large corporations hire graduates based on the core competencies badge system, Dr. Long says.

Vanderbilt University partners with Lipscomb, Vanderbilt and Tennessee State University to offer interprofessional training for students pursuing careers in health care. The program provides future doctors and nurses with opportunities to gain work-based learning experiences and a holistic view of health care through collaborative work on medical teams.

Preparing Students for Careers

Also heavily involved in developing and retaining talent throughout the region is the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which backs endeavors such as Intern Nashville and Young Professionals (YP) Nashville.

Approximately 100,000 students attend 18 colleges and universities in the Nashville region, and a majority of those – more than 60 percent – remain in the area upon graduation.

“Intern Nashville highlights companies in Middle Tennessee that offer internships to college students, with more than 300 companies now participating,” says Rebecca Leslie, Nashville Area Chamber vice president of talent development. “Additionally, YP Nashville has been a focus of ours for more than a decade to engage, connect and empower young professionals and college graduates to retain them in our region.”

Other talent initiatives include the Nashvillejobslink.com website, which receives 60,000 visitors a month thanks to 350 jobs that promote local businesses each day.

The Chamber has also partnered with the Middle Tennessee Regional Workforce Alliance, a public-private partnership of business, the public workforce system and post-secondary education that works together to improve the skills of workers in three strategic industry sectors vital to Middle Tennessee’s economic prosperity: advanced manufacturing, health care and information technology.

Another Chamber-endorsed program is the Academies of Nashville, an innovative approach found in all 12 Metro Nashville zoned high schools. More than 200 local businesses are partnering with the academies through the Pencil Foundation. Academy businesses and partners speak in classrooms and offer job shadowing and internship opportunities for students.

“The Academies of Nashville are schools within a school that incorporate a career theme into core academic subjects,” says Marc Hill, chief policy officer for the Nashville Area Chamber. “For instance, McGavock High School has academies for Digital Design and Communication, Health Sciences and Law, Hospitality and Finance, and Aviation and Transportation. The academies engage kids in learning and help them understand the relevance of their classroom work, better preparing them for college and whatever career paths they ultimately wish to pursue.”

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