Meet Our Partners: Talking Innovation in Higher Education w/ Kevin M. Ross, Pres. of Lynn University
July 11, 2022
Our university partners are shaping the modern college experience. For Kevin M. Ross, President of Lynn University, one of Kaplan’s institutional partners, it’s all about connecting with learners on their level.
For Ross, who has championed tech adoption during his 15 years as president, exploring opportunities on the cutting edge has always been a key part of the university’s strategy.
It’s what brought iPad® mobile learning technology into its classrooms nearly a decade ago and earned Lynn an Apple Distinguished School designation four times in a row.
“When we first learned of the educational opportunities with Apple®, we dreamed of what we could do with the devices,” Ross said. “The promise and excitement of what one day might be possible is the reality today. It’s been remarkable to watch our iPad-powered learning program evolve.”
Lynn’s iPad initiative has grown to be one of the most robust tablet-based learning programs on a campus today. Students can access faculty-authored e-books on their device at no cost.
It’s one part of an ongoing story of innovation being written at Lynn. The university’s unique core curriculum, the Dialogues—which trades lectures for interdisciplinary, discussion-based courses—has received national recognition.
Just this year, U.S. News & World Report placed Lynn on its Most Innovative Schools list. According to Ross, it’s a result of the school’s penchant for exploration.
“We're early adopters. We test and we tinker,” he said.
It’s never tinkering for tinkering’s sake, however. Ross is keenly aware of who it’s all for: the student in the picture. He attests that the adoption of tech is already having a profound, positive impact on learning.
"We’re designing an experience that acknowledges and pays attention to what the student needs,” he said. “We use techniques like design thinking to understand what students need to be successful, how we can create a positive college experience, what today’s market demands of graduates, and much more.”
Power Through Partnership
Lynn’s forward thinking hasn’t happened alone. The university has worked collaboratively with education innovators and service providers over its 60 years of operation and has been one of Kaplan’s university partners since 2021.
Together, Lynn and Kaplan are working to expand the university’s online offerings to deliver impactful, personalized education to adult learners worldwide. This engagement builds on the organizations’ shared mission to provide highly personal and accessible education to learners worldwide.
According to Ross, it was Kaplan’s knowledge of student success and understanding of the education landscape that immediately distinguished it as an ideal partner.
“The capacity of market research and student success stories that Kaplan has shared with us is remarkable,” he said. “It really resonated with us.”
Today, Lynn’s online offerings are considered among the best in higher education. Recently, the University was recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor's Programs for 2022, as well as Best Online Bachelor's in Business Programs.
“As much as I love students being here on campus and in the classroom, we expand opportunities to more students online by leveraging technology,” said Ross. “It’s our responsibility to create educational opportunities that meet students where they are.”
“The capacity of market research and student success stories that Kaplan has shared with us is remarkable.”
Ensuring Access for All Learners
As today’s educators seek new ways to serve every student, Ross offers a concise formula for meaningful learning:
“Make it accessible, make it affordable, and make it a great experience.”
It’s an approach reflected in how Lynn operates today. For example, since the COVID pandemic, the university has traded a typical “agrarian” calendar for a block schedule, providing new flexibility in how students spend their time while enrolled.
The product of all this choice, according to Ross: education that supports learners’ unique needs and desires.
“With block scheduling, some students may finish their courses in the first two blocks of a semester and do a full-time internship for the remaining two blocks. Some students may do a short-term study abroad, or take one class per block and gain experience in their chosen field during their free time,” he said. “None of this was possible before. And this is just one example of meeting students where they are and where they want to be.’”
“Our definition of innovation is people coming together to create shared value.”
For Ross, part of promoting access is reorienting how colleges connect with students, especially those new to or underserved by higher education.
“Our institutions don't need to seem like they're walled gardens,” he said. “We don't talk about ourselves as a private institution, we call ourselves an independent institution. We think it's very important. We’ve got a lot of first-generation families and students who have never stepped foot on a college campus before.”
Lynn’s journey seems to be just ramping up. Ross proudly touts the school as a place that “isn’t done yet,” and its strategic vision, Lynn 2025, charts out a bold future of innovation and expansion. It’s a plan decidedly designed by both the university’s faculty and its students—a collaboration for the future.
“Our definition of innovation is people coming together to create value,” Ross said. “Shared value.”
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