Dr. Jane Hopp has moved again. In her 23 years with Carroll, she has inhabited several different offices, as well as positions. An associate professor of physical therapy, Hopp most recently served as dean of the College of Health Sciences until the fall of 2017, when she was named the university’s first-ever associate vice president of partnerships and innovation.
It’s a new position, heading up a new office at Carroll, in the Discovery House on Wright Street. Hopp has a staff, student workers, a desk and a flexible vision of her new job.
“This will be all about the exploration of various partnerships that will enhance the quality of education programming here and possibly extend that into the community,” she explained. “That could mean new areas, new programs, new formats—such as online courses and boot camps, for example, even potentially new locations.”
If that sounds a bit vague, well, that’s the idea. Successful innovation depends upon agility. “The world around us is moving pretty fast,” noted Hopp. “It’s hard for me to say where this really goes. That’s the nature of innovation—looking into the future.”
The job and office arose in discussions soon after Dr. Cindy Gnadinger arrived.
“As the story is told, she asked where our office of partnership and innovation was and everyone sort of looked at each other,” Hopp said. While Carroll has numerous community partnerships and has rolled out innovative programs in the past, there had been no single overseeing, guiding force.
Hopp, who had already done a lot of community outreach for the sciences and health sciences, was offered the job. But undertaking a wholly new job has its challenges. Where does one start?
Hopp began with research. She discovered that a position like hers was becoming standard in industry and gaining favor among leading educational institutions, which had created similar posts. “The feedback I got gave me quite a bit of confidence.”
It’s no surprise that Hopp begins her new responsibilities just as the university embarks on a year-long strategic planning process. Both are forward-looking endeavors attempting to position the university to meet community needs and remain relevant.
“This and our strategic planning process eventually fold together,” said Hopp. “Right now, if you look at southeastern Wisconsin, you see big changes. You just have to look at Foxconn and digital technology, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. There’s a really major movement in here to partner with communities and educational institutions to train tomorrow’s workforce. It’s not that we’ll become something else, but a question of how do we capitalize on these developments in the region—building upon what we have now.”
Whichever direction that future might lie in, Hopp is confident in Carroll’s pioneering ability to blaze a trail. “We know that liberal arts, STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) classes and a good general education curriculum are going to be critical. This will help us ferret out these new opportunities.”