WEST LAFAYETTE - Purdue University is part of a group of higher education institutions nationwide that has received a $2.4 million grant from Indianapolis-based Strada Education Network. The funding will support the University Innovation Alliance's effort to redesign the college-to-career pathway from the student perspective.

The UIA consists of seven universities, each of which will identify where students are experiencing roadblocks on the bridge from college to career. Purdue says it is drawing on the experience of its career services staff, who are using design thinking methodologies to reimagine career readiness initiatives. 

"A common objective among college career services professionals is to continually assess and improve our service delivery to students and to the employers that hire them," said Timothy Luzader, executive director of career success at Purdue. "Applying a design thinking strategy in partnership with the University Innovation Alliance will further elevate our effectiveness in meeting students’ career development needs."

Bridget Burns, executive director of the UIA, says the project is about providing career services professionals with the capacity and time to redesign career readiness in order to better prepare students for an increasingly dynamic future of work. Leaders at each university have committed to sharing common challenges and successful strategies for overcoming them.

"Education consumers are telling us, loud and clear, that they’re looking for stronger connections between our nation’s colleges and employers. They’re asking for help making the case that their education is relevant," said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of national engagement and philanthropy at Strada Education Network. "The University Innovation Alliance is not only doing the hard work of mapping the real-world experiences of students, they’re building trust among institutional leaders that are often afraid to share their challenges."

Purdue says once the UIA completes the process of identifying barriers and opportunities, it plans to engage employers to co-create and scale new innovations to support the transition from higher education to the workplace. 

Joining Purdue in the UIA is Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Central Florida.