Featured Carousel Features January 2019

UF Partners with Companies to Educate Workforce


Written By: Mike Loizzo

Employees of The Walt Disney Co. now have access to the University of Florida Online degree program. Launched in 2014, UF Online is in its first year of partnering with major employers. Disney’s full- and part-time employees can begin pursuing one of several bachelor’s degree options beginning in spring 2019.

“At The Walt Disney Co., we strive to empower and support employees in their professional and personal lives,” said Jayne Parker, Disney’s senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer.

If employees have worked for the company for 90 days, they are eligible to have 100 percent of their tuition, required textbooks and course materials, plus application and program fees, paid upfront by the company.

Degree options include the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in business administration, the bachelor of science in sport management, and the bachelor of science in public relations or in telecommunication.

“They were really attracted to the fact the University of Florida was offering the same degree with the same faculty at such an affordable price,” said Evangeline Tsibris Cummings, assistant provost and director of UF Online.

The Disney partnership is bringing more UF degree options online, including tourism and digital arts and sciences.

“We are constantly looking at ways to help people realize their ambitions and fulfill their dreams,” Parker said.

Through other educational partnerships, Disney employees can earn their GED or go further with a graduate degree.

 Employer Pathways Program Growing

The UF partnership with Disney and other companies operates through the newly formed Employer Pathways Program. It recognizes the large number of students who work, and it tries to help them balance both school and work life.

“A huge part of our mission at UF Online is promoting access and affordability,” Cummings said. “The big focus of the Employer Pathways Program is recognizing progressive employers who want to find a way to help their workforce fill these skills gaps.”

Walmart and Discover Financial Services are the other two major corporate partners with UF Online.

Reshae Corse has worked for Walmart in the Dallas area for more than 17 years. She learned about the UF Online Program at the annual Walmart shareholders’ meeting and applied for admission the next day.

“Where else are you going to get an offer for a free ride, especially at the University of Florida?” Corse said.

A mother of five children, Corse was on track to earn an associate degree but had to stop two classes short of graduating. That was eight years ago. Now she works as the department manager over her store’s fabrics, crafts and stationery areas.

Corse admitted it was a challenge getting back into a school mindset when the fall 2018 semester began.

“I was still working hard on my back-to-school stuff in the retail realm, so it was really tough switching over to going home and going to college online, when all I really wanted to do was go home and go to sleep,” Corse said with a chuckle.

She is determined to get a general business degree through UF Online with Walmart paying the way and has promoted the program to her coworkers.

“I tell everybody I can tell,” Corse said. “I’m such an advocate for people to go to school, so I tell them all the time – you need to get in this program!” 

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