ASHLAND — Ashland University and Columbus-based Gosh Enterprises Inc, which operates Charleys Philly Steaks and Bibibop Asian Grill, signed a partnership agreement Friday to offer tuition discounts and corporate matching scholarships for thousands of Gosh’s restaurant employees worldwide.
AU has other corporate partnerships, but this is the largest to date, president Carlos Campo said at an agreement signing ceremony.
“We’re actually hoping to do more of these as part of our corporate connections program,” Campo said. “We don’t choose just any partner, but we look particularly for business and industry that really do see their mission as driving the work that they do. Charley approaches business mission-first, and of course as a religiously-affiliated institution, we do the same.”
Campo said the idea behind the partnerships is to give AU students pathways for careers and internship opportunities as well as to adapt to changes in higher education.
“University life, that four-year residential model, is changing,” he said. “A lot of people are going right into the workplace, but they don’t want to give up on their education.”
Campo said he believes the corporate partnership can be a model for reducing student debt, preparing students for careers and fulfilling workforce needs.
“We’re actually working with a number of organizations that have a similar approach where they say, ‘Let us take a student right out of high school, employ them and then get them into an educational system, and we’ll provide some of the funding for that,'” Campo said.
As part of the agreement, the university has agreed to give Gosh employees enrolled part-time in certain online undergraduate programs a 10 percent tuition discount if Gosh pays 10 percent or more of the student’s tuition upfront.
Fulltime undergraduate students can also receive a $1,000 per year scholarship, and graduate students can receive a 10 percent discount. There is also a reduced rate for Gosh employees in AU’s RN-BSN program.
Also part of the Leaders Making Leaders program is a 10-badge system that allows employees to complete 10 “badges” to earn an Associate of Arts in General Studies or to take an additional four classes to earn an Associate of Arts in General Studies with a concentration in business. Students may then go on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies or a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from AU.
Gosh employees must work at least 20 hours a week and must meet AU’s admission requirements to participate in the program. Participating students will receive a tablet to access online course delivery, and students in Columbus will have access to face-to-face learning.
“Because the delivery mode is different doesn’t mean that the rigor or quality is lessened,” Campo said. “That’s something not only we have been adamant about, but our partners are. Our partners don’t ask us to come and offer a B degree or a lesser degree. The admission standards, the educational outcomes for these course don’t change, the syllabi is the same.”
Charley Shin, founder and CEO of Gosh, said he has noticed a gap in leadership development programs in the hospitality industry, and he hopes the new partnership will help bridge that gap.
He is also excited about the opportunities the program will provide for his employees.
“Giving them an opportunity for further education, it brings me such joy, just thinking about the idea that they have a chance to advance their career, their life and their confidence,” said Shin.