Today@Sam Article

Partnerships Pave The Way

Jan. 8, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti


Academic excellence is a vital factor for career opportunities and Sam Houston State University is dedicated to paving successful academic pathways for transforming students into career ready employees. Out of 38 public universities, SHSU is ranked in the top ten in placing students in the Texas workforce within 12 months of graduation.

In the Department of Agricultural Sciences, innovative paths have been developed to foster academic excellence by addressing the needs of industry employers in a new partnership established with Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

According to Stanley Kelley, professor of animal science who also oversees department advancement, through recognizing the growing job gaps and skill set needs in specific industry areas, the department realized the partnership opportunity.

“As the Baby Boomer generation retires from the workforce in greater numbers, companies like Georgia-Pacific are losing many of their most experienced and knowledgeable workers,” Kelley said. “So, we started fostering a relationship with them this past spring to learn more about the skills that are needed and how we can contribute.”

Although the company has been impressed with the exceptional knowledge and skills that new graduates from SHSU bring to the workforce, Kelley said there are additional communication, human relations, supervisory and entrepreneurial “soft skills” still needed to fill career gaps. This new initiative provides opportunities for students to enhance their workforce marketability through customized curriculum to meet those needs.

“Part of this new partnership included meeting with Georgia-Pacific human resources executives to better understand where there is a demand for specific skills and then taking a look at our curriculum to find ways to incorporate those skills into our education and training,” Kelley said. 

Another component of the new partnership includes opportunities for students to meet with Georgia-Pacific executives and learn first-hand from industry leaders. A recent career fair hosted on campus proved successful in that area.

“We invited Georgia-Pacific to take part along with many other companies at a recent job fair here,” Kelley said. “From that one event, they quickly identified 17 potential students that will soon graduate from our department that they are reviewing as potential employees.”

Beyond career fairs, the company has established summer internships for SHSU students. The department also coordinated a student trip to Georgia-Pacific corporate offices in East Texas where students had the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with executives and tours of the facilities.

“A group of students were invited to our Camden and Corrigan Plywood facilities, to explore employment opportunities with Georgia-Pacific,” said Cathey Page, human resources manager for Georgia-Pacific.  “The purpose of this visit was to select the top 4 to 6 candidates we would like to return for formal interviews.”

According to Page, with over 35,000 employees, Georgia-Pacific offers a diverse range of opportunities for qualified applicants. “Computer tech, engineering, environmental science, manufacturing, sales, safety specialist, and mechanics are just a few of the possibilities,” Page said.

“The trips and internships are excellent ways for our students to learn more about the expectations from company leaders and we see great possibilities for those internships evolving into good paying careers.” Kelley said.  “We’ve created a pipe-line of skilled workers for Georgia-Pacific and the specific training we’re offering at Sam Houston will allow some of our students to be very, very selective in the job market. That’s truly a win-win relationship.”

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