NASPO Events & Education Pulse Blog NASPO’s Higher Education initiatives are built upon our relationships with academic partners. After more than three years of working with these impressive academics and their students, the answer to a need of our membership often lies with one of our partner schools. NASPO encourages its membership to participate in academic partner career fairs, case competitions and many other events, but the ultimate goal is to build an example for the states to model when reaching out to their local institutions. NASPO has worked to establish relationships with top-tier Supply Chain Management programs across the country. Of course, the primary goal in everything we do is to serve our members, and these partnerships are no different.


NASPO has collaborated with its academic partners over the years to recruit students for internships and full-time positions in state offices, as well as provide educational resources and training services. Recent academic partner projects include the Chemeketa Community College online public procurement course, the Michigan State University Leadership Academy and the upcoming Arizona State University online IT certification, to name a few. We hope that these examples inspire you to get involved with schools near you. Academic institutions can provide a wealth of educational resources, and they’re willing to help!

Where do I begin?

Does a relationship like this sound appealing? Does your team have needs that cannot be met with current state resources? The first step is to reach out to institutions in your area. Do you have a community college or university in your city? Several of you can see a public university from your office window. I bet you’ve thought about collaborating with them but felt overwhelmed by not knowing where to begin. You can find a list of local community colleges and public universities close to you here.

NASPO has chosen to work with Supply Chain Management Departments due to the similarity in skillsets and coursework of this degree program, to the work you do as public procurement professionals. Supply Chain students take coursework in data analytics, contract management, negotiations and strategic sourcing, just to name a few. You can view NASPO academic partners’ Supply Chain Management course lists on our website. Research your local institution’s Supply Chain Department. Don’t have one? Almost every school has a general business program, and they likely have most, if not all, of the courses mentioned above. For training needs, an executive education or public policy program can often be a good fit.

I did an experiment…

In order to prove how ‘doable’ creating these relationships is, I did a little experiment. I chose a public university at random. I typed “Supply Chain Management” in their website tool bar and found the phone number and email address for their administrative contact and department chair. I called the number to gauge their team’s interest in partnering with NASPO or a state procurement office. Guess what…? They wanted to know more!

Nine times out of ten, these schools are interested in at least exploring a relationship. The only time NASPO has experienced rejection was when a school didn’t have the capacity for new projects at the time. We’ve had several of these schools reach out to us months or even years later to reconnect and explore new opportunities. However, exploring this relationship does not mean you are required to work with them in the future.

Now what?

Don’t give up! If one school or one department doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t be discouraged. Explore other departments within that school or try another college or university close by.

Now that you’ve established a relationship with your local institution, communication is key to the maintenance of this new relationship. I recommend at least quarterly sync-ups to discuss future goals and  project-related meetings on an as-needed basis.

Have questions or feel stuck? Our team is always here to help! Email Olivia Frey at ofrey@naspo.org or call her at (859)402-9803. Happy relationship building!