Meet Mike Norton, Business Partnership Lead at UC Online

Since its 2020 launch, University of Cincinnati (UC) Online’s educational offering, a unique business partnership program, has been generating buzz. More than 80 companies across the country offer this employee benefit in their workplace. Today, 150,000+ employees from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Reds, Mitsubishi and other leading companies now have access to UC’s online study programs — associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and several certificates and doctoral degrees — at more affordable tuition rates.

Enthusiastic Advocate for Business Partnership Program

Mike Norton Biography

When a business owner or Human Resources professional needs information about this program, Mike Norton, Assistant Director – Recruiting, is often the person they connect with. He’s part of the team that establishes these higher-education partnerships or relationships with companies of all sizes and from a variety of industries.

“This is such a great program,” Mike says. “Employers can enhance their current benefits package, offering a new way to attract and retain employees. And it doesn’t cost the employer anything to set up.”

Mike explains how the program’s tuition scholarships work and how employees and their family members (spouses, domestic partners and dependent children under age 25) can participate. “They choose from more than 100 fully online programs, where they learn essential skills that aid their professional and personal development and get an accredited degree,” Mike says.

How Tuition Scholarships Work

One of the first questions Mike and his team often get asked is about the tuition scholarships. He says the scholarships are based on several factors, including the company size. (UC has the program in place for a one-person company and for an employer with 60,000 people!) Once Mike knows more about the company’s needs and its employee base, he provides specific tuition scholarship examples.

“Employees still pay for their college education but at a lower rate,” Mike says. “If the company already offers tuition reimbursement or if the employee applies for financial aid or a third-party scholarship, their cost of returning to school is reduced even more. This is simply an added benefit the employer can offer that comes directly off of the bill and doesn’t affect any other scholarships or financial aid.”

UC Online’s program is also ideal to offer as a standalone employee-education benefit if the employer doesn’t offer tuition reimbursement today or had a program in the past that was canceled due to a cost-cutting measure.

Appeal of Online Learning

Mike’s watched the program grow exponentially, especially over the last six months. He enjoys seeing how the program builds momentum at a company as tuition scholarships get discussed in the workplace.

“Employees often know UC and its reputation as a leading university,” Mike says. “They also appreciate our program material is 100% available online and the asynchronous learning format. Being able to study when and where they want and choose a full- or part-time study schedule makes the program appealing. This is an awesome opportunity for individuals working full time and trying to balance work and life.”

Mike shares how certain undergraduate and graduate-level degrees are particularly compelling to the partnering companies’ employees. “Our Master of Health Administration and MBA get a lot of interest. So do the finance, IT and marketing associate and bachelor’s degrees we offer.”



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Easy to Enroll in the Partnership Program

UC streamlines the process for organizations that want to sign up right away. First, Mike or one of his teammates prepare an agreement that outlines the percentage off of the instructional fee, the programs UC offers and onboarding information. Once the company signs the agreement, they schedule a “launch call” call with a Business Partnership team representative where they cover UC’s best practices for a successful roll-out of the benefit. “We provide all of the marketing materials needed to help the partner organization spread the word,” Mike says.

The Business Partnership team encourages companies not to just announce the benefit once but to regularly remind employees of it. Letting each new hire know about the program is essential, too. “On-site or virtual information sessions are great for spreading the word,” Mike says. “And if the workplace needs a video to run in a breakroom or company-wide meeting or wants flyers to hand out, they give us a call. We can also customize any material that any organization would like to provide to employees.”

How Employees Enroll in a UC Online Program

Once the program is live at a company, employees can explore the available online degrees and connect with a UC Online enrollment advisor for one-on-one support. “We provide a custom QR code to each partner organization that their employees can use to take them to a student portal where they can learn more and fill out an inquiry form,” Mike says.

When an employee enrolls in a program, their UC advisor helps them through the sign-up process, answering any degree program-related question they might have. Upon enrollment, each student is introduced to their Student Success Coordinator, a personal advocate who partners with them from day one until they graduate. (Meet one of our SSCs, Mallery Schulkers.)

Get In Touch With Mike’s Team

Mike says the future looks bright for UC’s partnership program and is excited about introducing it to more companies across the country. “It never gets old, hearing how thrilled organizations are to be able to give something of value to their employees,” he says. “We’re quickly approaching 100 partnered organizations!”

Ready to learn more about UC Online’s Business Partnership program? Contact us today to get started. Soon, you’ll be able to introduce a new professional development benefit in your business, helping employees and their significant others make their educational dreams a reality.

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Helping You Build a Better Business Through Continuing Education
Employee recruitment and retention is crucial for the growth and profitability of an organization and should be a high priority for every business. At the University of Cincinnati Online, we want to help develop and retain your employees through our Business Partnership offering.

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