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The rise of strategic partnerships at colleges and universities

Services traditionally managed in house by colleges and universities are increasingly being outsourced to companies through strategic partnerships. Colleges and universities often pursue a strategic partnership when seeking to optimize spend, maintain a high quality of service, and to accelerate or improve infrastructures such as organizational staffing models, business and financial models, as well as facility design and utilization plans.

This allows them to focus on their academic core and let experts in the area deliver vitally important programs and services to faculty, students and the surrounding community. A strategic partnership may assist campuses to reach their goal to be more innovative while offering the opportunity for differentiation and growth.
 “By identifying and pursuing strategic partnerships with individuals and institutions — including not just other colleges but also businesses and nonprofits — we can create a multidimensional education ecosystem that supports a constellation of enhanced educational offerings at lower costs as we leverage each other’s competencies.”  - Stephen Spinelli Jr., Babson President Elect. (1)
  If all your friends are jumping off a cliff…
Strategic partnerships are on the rise and are expanding to new areas some colleges and universities haven’t previously considered. In a survey of 249 presidents, provosts and chief financial officers conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education and George Mason University, 83% of respondents predicted their institution will expand their use of partnerships.2

You should too!
Strategic partnerships can have many benefits for colleges and universities including:
  • Skill and agility: Strategic partner companies bring unique competencies, industry experience and are able to adapt and respond to the market with greater speed.
  • Administrative efficiencies: Strategic partner companies can often execute basic and high-level operations and administration more efficiently than traditional “in house” options by providing a turnkey solution from day one.
  • Reduced burden on university: Partner companies handle the HR responsibilities of staffing including recruiting, onboarding, performance management, compensation, rewards and incentives, titling and classification, and employee benefits. Often times a strategic partner’s FTE and headcount are not applied against your campus.
Don’t worry, we’re with you
Campus fitness, recreation and wellness is an area of operations that is well suited for a strategic partnership. HealthFitness is the leader in delivering a total campus solution that includes the best of fitness, recreation and wellness.
  • True partnership: We will work with you to develop a solution that meets your recreation, fitness center and overall wellness program needs. We’ll even help assess revenue generating opportunities, program potential, facility design, and explore enhanced organizational models to help you meet department, division or campus goals, and do it in a sustainable way so that you can expect long term results.
  • Enhanced onsite staff: We employ skilled, passionate recreation and student affairs professionals who bring a wealth of higher education experience to your campus. Our people work hard every single day to inspire, incentivize and engage your entire campus community, all ages and all abilities.
  • Leading edge: We stay up to date on the leading fitness, recreation and wellness trends and engage your campus with the latest research, technology and programs that establish a culture of health. For example, HealthFitness has partnered with human performance leader, Spectrum Inc. to ensure a results driven fitness and training program based on scientific research, and a cohesive strategy for our industry leading fitness professionals.
  • Integrated wellness: We are the catalysts that successfully build strong, supportive and collaborative partnerships across your campus. These partnerships allow your campus to leverage all of its health and wellness assets to most effectively scale and coordinate the delivery of fitness, recreation and wellness programs.
  • Experience: HealthFitness has over 40 years of experience, over 4,000 associates nationwide, and 180 clients.
Admissions will thank you
Campus recreation facilities and programs are a factor for recruiting and retaining students. According to data from NIRSA3:
  • 68% of students reported that their decision of which college/university to attend was influenced by campus recreation facilities and 62% were influenced by campus recreation programs.
  • 74% of students stated that campus recreation facilities influenced their decision to continue attending their chosen college/university and 67% were influenced by campus recreation programs.
Learn more:
Contact us to find out if a strategic partnership with HealthFitness may be right for you.
Read about what Stephanie Smith, director of recreation at MIT is doing on her campus.
Read how Kim Lacasse, General Manager, Harvard Recreation, supports the wellbeing of students at Harvard University. 

  1. Stephen Spinelli Jr., Babson President Elect. Collaboration is the key for higher ed’s survival. The Boston Globe.
  2. Carlson, S. (2019). The Outsourced University.
    The Chronicle of Higher Education
  3. Forrester, S. (2014). The Benefits of Campus Recreation. NIRSA.


Posted on June 17, 2019