| 4 minute read

Opening doors: Loyola Marymount University’s industry partnerships

Lauren Kroemer-Pope
Lmu campus

Rooted in the Jesuit tradition of critical thinking and inquiry, our new Initiator member, the private research university Loyola Marymount University (LMU) serves as a dynamic hub where academia and industry intersect. With a diverse student body and a strong foundation in the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, LMU is dedicated to fostering practical connections. In this conversation with Jody Skenderian, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives at LMU, we discuss LMU’s proactive stance in building transformative partnerships with industry.

What are your institutional goals in terms of university-industry engagement?

LMU seeks to foster transformational partnerships and collaborations with industry that bolster the university’s strategic goals of anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion; innovation and adaptability; and extending LMU’s reach. We do this through partnering with organisations that share LMU’s values in pursuit of mutually beneficial relationships impacting the following:

  • Student opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, experiential learning, capstone projects, and careers that provide a diverse, well-rounded, ethical, and talented pipeline for industry
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship to support the development of new technologies, products, and services that benefit society
  • Research collaboration with industry addressing real world challenges
  • Curriculum relevance through direct engagement with employers ensuring graduates master employable skills and are prepared for industry
  • Community impact by leveraging expertise and resources to address societal challenges through symposiums, think tanks and forums open to the community
  • Creative collaboration to uncover and explore unanticipated opportunities

Can you share any success stories of your institution regarding university-industry engagement?

The past 18 months have focused on opening doors to new relationships as we emerged from the pandemic. Over 600 new relationships were initiated through a series of 20 engagements ranging from small dinners to large events featuring innovative themes. The next 18 months will focus on further engaging uncovered relationships as we explore shared values and goals through discovery discussions to include campus stakeholders. Located in Los Angeles, LMU has opportunities to engage and convene cohorts of new partners in creative and meaningful ways. We’ve delighted partners through engagement with world leaders, actors, cultural icons, and scientists. We’ve had success being one of the first in our region to host panel discussions and keynotes on artificial intelligence disruptions in education, and entertainment. Leveraging our proximity to world class arts, entertainment, and sports, and linking to our academic programs through an interdisciplinary lens has opened many doors.

Which challenges have you been faced with over the last years in driving university-industry engagement? And what have you done to overcome them?

The strategic partnerships and initiative’s role was relatively new when I was appointed Executive Director in August of 2022, so lack of internal and external awareness was a pressing challenge. I soon discovered that many LMU colleagues outreached to external organisations on behalf of their department to establish relationships. With no universally agreed upon practices, database, protocol or definitions of partnership, there was potential for confusion internally and with our potential partners. Over the past six months, a new LMU Partnership Roundtable has been organised to convene over 20 university colleagues who engage with external organisations so we can identify shared definitions, goals, protocols and practices, and a database to foster transparency and alignment. The collaboration has already streamlined three partnership discussions as new opportunities have emerged. The group has also begun work to identify a database, inventory current relationships, and develop a menu of offerings LMU can provide a partner, as well as what LMU could benefit from through partnership.

Which areas or topics do you wish to further develop or learn more about?

Learning what other universities are doing to build partnerships would be helpful. No two partnerships are alike, and the work can be as creative as those involved – it’s inspiring to see the possibilities.

Jody skenderian 

Jody Skenderian
If you want to know more about the LMU, contact Jody Skenderian via email.

Ready for more?

If you enjoyed this article, check out The road to ethical partnerships: Lessons from university-industry collaborations, or our podcast episode Southern Africa’s path to innovation: The potential of university-industry partnerships, as part of our Strategic Partnership series.


Lauren Kroemer-Pope (interviewer) is the Outreach and Partnerships Specialist at UIIN.

Madeline Arkins (author) is a Project Officer at UIIN. In her work she focuses on topics relating to social impact and innovation in regional ecosystems.

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