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Spotlight on the Academic Innovation Team


Turning Creative Ideas into Workforce Value for Mount Students

In today’s rapidly changing job market, college graduates facing their entry into the workforce must be equipped with the most relevant skills and knowledge necessary for job-seeking success. That might sound intimidating for young adults still trying to navigate exactly what they want to do, where they see themselves, and who they want to work with.

The good news?

The Mount will always hold at its core a true commitment to fostering the full potential of every single student to enroll in our programs and courses. And—thanks to a committed team of colleagues working jointly to ensure these students have the resources needed to succeed—Mount graduates for decades to come will be equipped and ready to launch their careers.

Over the past year, Mount Saint Vincent has been expanding its longstanding efforts to address this vital need of career readiness through the Academic Innovation Team (AIT). This highly-specialized committee focuses on soliciting, evaluating, and developing proposals for new programs, courses, and certificates that will enhance career success for Mount graduates.

The AIT was reinvigorated last Fall by College President Dr. Susan R. Burns.

“A multifaceted, interdisciplinary team was developed as responsive mechanism for the College to uncover innovative ideas from the people most invested in our success—the Mount community,” said Dr. Burns.

The team, led by Dr. Lynne Bongiovanni, Provost and Dean of the College, and Cristóbal Stewart, Dean of the School of Professional and Graduate Studies, was mobilized at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year with new members and a strategic agenda. Buoyed by Dr. Burns’ support and energized by new leadership, the group operates on the simple, yet revolutionary idea that any member of the Mount community—whether members of the Board of Trustees, academic or administrative departments, the student body, alumnae/i, or even the Sisters of Charity—could be the source of a new educational tool, program, or approach that may improve outcomes for students preparing to enter the workforce.

“The beauty of the work of the AIT is that we’re not taking away any courses—we’re adding and enhancing,” said Dr. Bongiovanni. “Our goal is to ensure a Mount education aligns with career success in addition to offering a solid foundation in the liberal arts. We believe we’re on track to develop new offerings that will not only attract prospective students, but that will also help current students stay motivated, finish their degrees on time, and enter the job market equipped for success.”

The process of submitting an idea for a new course or program is simple. Any member of the Mount community can complete an application form—describing their vision and answering questions about feasibility, budget, target market, and other important details.

The AIT meets regularly to review and evaluate each proposal, using the committee’s range of expertise and knowledge to ensure that an idea is sound, relevant, meets the needs of students, and will satisfy potential employers.

“We also consider student interest, market demand, and the resources required for implementation,” Dean Stewart remarked. “The team may work with an applicant to further develop the idea, sometimes soliciting additional research data or further proof of concept. Several proposals have made it all the way to a business model, which we then present to the Board of Trustees for approval to begin implementation.”

The group aims to build a pipeline they hope will soon be filled with a constant flow of new ideas for evaluation and development.

“Proposals with all the necessary components are implemented as soon as they are ready,” Dean Stewart continued. “That’s how the graduate certificate for diversity, equity and inclusion found its way into the Mount’s course catalog.”

Reporting on the progress of a proposal to introduce a program in clinical lab science, Dr. Bongiovanni said, “We’re working on obtaining the regulatory support required by New York State before it’s launched. It takes time, but it’s coming. We also have an undergraduate course in speech language pathology in the pipeline, which we’re confident will fit in well with the Mount’s programs in the health professions.”

The AIT is hard at work spreading the word in the hope of discovering the next great idea, which could come from any member of the Mount community. As Dr. Bongiovanni put it:

“We want to hear from everyone. The only bad idea is the one you don’t share with others.”

Want to find out more? Check out the AIT webpage to explore how you can submit a proposal and get your questions answered!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment and leadership in the 21st century.