EASLEY — Southern Wesleyan University and Baptist Easley Hospital are joining forces to push the front lines of business and higher education a little closer together with a one-of-a-kind innovation.
The two organizations signed a Letter of Agreement on June 13 to establish a “fluid” partnership to enhance the offerings of a growing SWU, foster leadership in the medical field, and provide unique opportunities to the community as a whole.
“Higher education has not been innovative, has not done well with change, but I’m a change kind of person,” SWU President Dr. Todd Voss said of the new partnership. “The idea is that higher education through collaboration can morph into something that fills real needs in the community.”
Among the objectives of the agreement are physician and athletic support for SWU, which will begin competing in NCAA Division II athletics and a wellness and prevention programs for staff, faculty, and families of SWU. Discussions are being held concerning a possible healthcare clinic on the university’s campus to support the local community and extend the hospital’s outreach program, as well as, looking into benefits and savings on health options.
Headlining the announcement of the partnership is the creation of a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program through SWU with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration.
“It’s about Southern Wesleyan, my team, and growing future leaders,” Baptist Easley Hospital CEO Michael Batchelor said. “Growing leaders not just here, but in the upstate and maybe around the country and around the world that will be touched by this program.”
The offering of a specialized MBA in healthcare would be the first of its kind and the accrediting agency responsible for giving SWU and Baptist Easley the go ahead have “expressed a great deal of interest” and the program could be offered as early as Fall 2014.
“We’re now going to offer a degree option for residents of Pickens County that they didn’t have before,” Voss said. “As a matter of fact, it’s an option where there aren’t very many of them in the country. It’s a very innovative thing in a growth industry.”
Though the partnership may be new, Batchelor is excited about the possibilities.
“We feel it’s going to be a partnership that will sustain for years to come,” he said. “But, it’s those other partnerships that will be developed from this relationship that further supports Southern Wesleyan, that’s why I’m here.”
Voss stressed the athletic facilities and university are available to the community as a whole, welcoming the opportunity to become an even bigger part of Pickens County and felt the partnership was going to provide benefit to everyone involved, including the county’s residents.