Corporate Engagement Center white paper

Corporate Engagement: Recommendations for a Holistic, Single Portal Approach for Kansas State University Corporate Relations: In Partial Response to the Research Infrastructure Task Force


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The landscape of corporate giving across the country is shifting, with industry moving away from traditional philanthropy to a focus on return on investment in their university relationships.

Universities that wish to sustain strong industry partnerships are finding they must listen more closely to the needs of their corporate partners and help them navigate these highly complex, decentralized institutions.

A Research Infrastructure Task Force, formed in January 2010, was charged with taking a broad overarching approach to examining K-State’s research enterprise as we move toward K-State 2025. Based on their findings about how the whole university engages with industry, the task force recommended that Kansas State University:

Develop a concierge office to build partnerships and relationships between the university and its current and potential corporate sponsors. This office should serve as an initial point of contact for companies looking for information on the university and its faculty, and the staff should be sufficiently knowledgeable about university activities to help corporations quickly identify faculty with strengths in their area(s).

 Involve the KSU Foundation more heavily with research, scholarship, and creative activities and the identification of corporations and foundations that share these priorities.

From these recommendations, leaders from the KSU Foundation and the Offices of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the Vice President for Research drafted a report, "Corporate Engagement: Recommendations for a Holistic, Single Portal for Kansas State University Corporate Relationships," that proposes the formation of a centralized resource for K-State-industry interactions.

The two offices not only reviewed K-State’s current philanthropic structure, but also examined how six other top American research universities have successfully implemented this more holistic, industry-focused approach. As a part of this process a set of best practices was developed from interviews with the universities, and a straw man model was suggested to serve as a starting point for discussions and development on our campus.

Key points of the suggested straw man model include:

A central group, or Corporate Engagement Center, should be implemented to coordinate K-State corporate engagement across the Foundation and all three K-State campuses.

The primary function of the Corporate Engagement Center is to develop, foster, and manage strategic relationships with industry in a holistic manner that spans multiple interests across academic areas.

A Corporate Liaison Network, which will include representatives across all three campuses, will work together to assure holistic corporate engagement at K-State.

A Corporate Liaison Network Guidance Council, reporting to campus leadership, will develop K-State’s shared strategic engagement approach.

Tactical teams, comprised of faculty and development staff, will be formed to manage strategic corporate relationships.

To strengthen campus communications about available resources, a K-State website for the corporate engagement center will be established as a gateway.

Databases needed for this new structure include online, comprehensive expertise and facilities databases for industry use and a shared, all-inclusive corporate engagement events calendar to keep all groups informed.

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