FREEPORT — L.L. Bean is working with Husson University to give employees an education without taking time away from their jobs.
The partnership, announced Aug. 21, will give 22 employees selected by lottery the opportunity to pursue a Master of Business Administration from Husson through a workforce development initiative.
The Bangor university has had similar partnerships with other businesses, including Bangor Savings Bank in Bangor and Jackson Lab in Bar Harbor. The college also has off-campus satellite education centers in northern and southern Maine.
“We were attracted to the opportunity to offer a program for our employees that leveraged Husson’s experience and the strength of their program,” Maureen Lafferty, director of human resources at L.L. Bean, said in an email Aug. 26. “We’re excited for the opportunity for our employees to pursue their education, and that they can do so conveniently onsite.”
The pilot program drew interest from about 100 employees, Lafferty said, and those who were not selected will have access to Husson’s MBA program online. The program will be paid for through L.L. Bean’s tuition reimbursement program and employees will be responsible for paying for fees beyond what is covered.
“The MBA program provides participants with the opportunity to deepen creativity and knowledge of organizational systems in addition to expanding knowledge of organizational systems and leadership,” Marie Hansen, dean of Husson’s College of Business, said in the press release.
This program is the first onsite graduate education program for employees outside of internally designed leader development courses through L.L. Bean. Classes will begin in September and it will take participants about two years to complete their MBA through the program.
“This program benefits the employee in terms of the skills and knowledge they acquire,” Lafferty said. “L.L. Bean benefits from the knowledge our employees gain through an MBA program in terms of business understanding and leadership skills. Opportunities for employee development also strengthen our ability to retain current and recruit future employees.”
The class size will allow for a range of different perspectives but still be small enough for an effective learning environment. Instructors from Husson University will be commuting from the Westbrook campus and classes will be hosted once a week at L.L. Bean’s corporate offices.
“Working as a member of a team within the MBA program, outside of my typical workgroup, will allow me to grow and develop interpersonal relationships, both within and outside the company,” Courtney Fillmore, a human resources department employee at L.L. Bean, said in the press release. “Studying at Husson will give me access to a network of professionals in Maine who have completed the same MBA program that I have. (This) is the ideal program to further my career aspirations and I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge I gain in the classroom to my professional development.”
In the release, Melissa Rosenberg, director of graduate admissions at Husson University, said, “Bringing graduate degree opportunities to the workplace benefits both companies and their employees.
“Education furthers employees’ careers within the organization. Employers get a higher quality workforce who can take the knowledge, skills and techniques they learn in class and apply them to their jobs right away.”