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JLG Catches Nittany Lion Fever

Wed January 19, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Fruma Klass


JLG Industries, a leading producer of mobile aerial work platforms, telescopic material handlers, and hydraulic excavators under the JLG and Gradall trademarks, has joined with Penn State University’s Mont Alto campus in an educational partnership that establishes JLG University. JLG University will primarily focus on the development of all JLG team members.

“We chose to partner with Penn State University to ensure that not only JLG team members, but also our customers and suppliers could benefit from quality programs that would be offered through JLG University,” said L. David Black, chairman, president, and CEO of JLG Industries Inc. “Just as JLG is known for quality products and services, Penn State University is known for the quality of education it provides.”

“All of our employees are eligible for this program,” Dr. Janet Hollenshead, JLG’s Director of Human Relations explained. “And the company offers tuition assistance that is tied to the grades its students earn: An ’A’ earns full tuition, a ’B’ earns 90 percent, and a ’C’ earns 80 percent. The classes are open to the community, but of course without tuition assistance.”

JLG University will be organized into five units or colleges: professional development, leadership development, skilled trades, customer support and supply chain. The colleges will offer a variety of workshops and seminars, credit and non-credit courses, certificate programs and both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. “The classes are on site, at our two factories in McConnellsburg and two in Bedford,” Hollenshead said. “What we’re offering right now are certificate programs for associate degrees. The next step will be from associate’s to bachelor’s. And in the spring we’ll be offering MBA programs.”

Penn State Mont Alto CEO Dr. David H. Goldenberg commented, “It is the goal of Penn State Mont Alto to reach out to our community. And JLG Industries is right in our community. Mont Alto, founded in 1903, is the oldest branch campus of The Pennsylvania State University. It’s in the middle of the state, straight south of Harrisburg on the Maryland border. JLG Industries’ two major centers, at McConnellsburg and at Bedford, PA, are each about a half-hour’s drive from Mont Alto. This gives us an excellent opportunity to offer the quality of a Penn State education in partnership with an industry leader and a well-respected company in our home state.

“And the degree is certainly genuine: the associate degree in business administration. We call it a 2BA or 2 plus 2 degree because it can expand to a bachelor’s. It’s accepted just about anywhere as the first two years of undergraduate work towards a four-year degree. JLG students don’t go full time, of course, so the ’two years’ is three to three and a half years for most of them.”

“Actually, it’s about five years,” Hollenshead said. That would be at the rate of two classes per semester. Students could speed up and take four courses per semester as well as courses in the summer, but “most people have families and lives off the job,” she said. Along with the formal classes, distance education is already available — courses online, closed-circuit videoconferencing and correspondence courses. JLG University will encompass all of the company’s normal training, education and development programs, even ISO 9000-9001training. All these programs fit into the overall strategy of the company: targeted learning.

A project coordinator/instructional designer will be selected to join the JLG University staff. The role of Penn State will be to ensure quality curriculum development and the most appropriate means of instruction for each university offering.

Penn State is more than just a deliverer of courses. Rather, it’s a comprehensive educational partner. It supplies the instructors for the academic courses, and also helps locate the educational resources for non-credit courses (such as a Dale Carnegie course). As Goldenberg observed, courses are taught “at any time the JLG students want them, evenings, weekends — I can see us assigning courses and saying to the instructors, ’It’s third shift, I hope you don’t mind.’ ”

And JLG University is more than a partnership with Penn State; it’s free to do joint ventures with other schools as it needs them. For instance, JLG University gives a graduate-level certificate in Total Quality Management (TQM). The instructor is from Shippensburg University, which is part of the educational network of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but not part of Penn State. And the TQM certificate is credited in any university toward a master’s degree.

Actually, all 12 Commonwealth campuses of Penn State deliver credit and non-credit courses directly to industry. Many universities do. The concept of a corporate or industry university is at least 20 years old. At that time, as Goldenberg put it, “It seemed a bit of a revolution in the world of industry.” In 1988, there were 400 industries with their own university. Now there are more than 2,000, including about 40 percent of Fortune 400 companies. In 2010, Goldenberg predicted, there won’t be many industries that aren’t involved with corporate universities.

But JLG University, Goldenberg said, is “really visionary. Dave Black, chairman of the board of JLG Industries, is a true visionary. He sees that the future growth of his company depends on higher education. So one of JLG’s most important goals is to educate all of its people for the future. There’s an organizational ethos at work here. It says, ’Our people are important, and their educational needs are important. Every person in our organization, no matter what his job, has educational needs. We are going to open up professional development for all our employees.’ ”

Black made it even clearer. “Through JLG University,” he said, “we will facilitate continuous development of a global high-performance team, ongoing improvement of our suppliers and uncompromising commitment to meeting the needs of our customers, all of which is expected to ultimately enhance shareholder value. Our people are our greatest asset, and being able to give them the tools to meet the challenges of a changing and growing marketplace is of key importance. The establishment of JLG University demonstrates the magnitude of our commitment.”

“We aren’t worried,” Hollenshead said, “about people becoming ’overeducated’ or ’overqualified.’ It’s recognized that the jobs people do are becoming more complex, that teamwork is essential because people are far more productive when they work in teams than when they work alone, and that problem-solving belongs to everyone.

“Corporate strategies are constantly changing, and employees have to adjust — have to learn to adjust. Our ultimate goal is to have everyone who works for JLG constantly reinventing themselves.”




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