DeVry blazing trails in knowledge economy

January 16, 2006

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS

Can you break into knowledge economy job opportunities without going to Harvard Business School? Daniel Hamburger is a 1990 Harvard MBA who wants to assure everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge economy. He also wants to keep our educational institutions responsive to market forces. As president of Chicago-based DeVry Inc., Hamburger leads one of the largest publicly held higher education companies, and he's blazing a path of innovation.

"We're combining the best practices of the business world to the world of education," says Hamburger, who runs a $781 million holding company comprising DeVry University, Ross University, Deaconess College of Nursing and Becker Professional Review. DeVry has 53,000 students at 78 learning locations.

Hamburger is proud of his new game and simulation programming degree offered at 11 DeVry campuses. "At $7 billion annually, video games are larger than the film industry," says Hamburger. "Technologies like simulations used by the military are a booming area."

Hamburger aims to carve new access to an industry where apprenticeship was the only means of entry.

Cyber crime forensics

Other DeVry innovations include programs in computer forensics, information systems security and Web development.

"One of the hot areas right now is tracking down cyber crime and cyber terrorism," says Hamburger. With the population aging, Hamburger has launched programs in biomedical informatics, biomedical engineering and health information management.

"The employment market is improving," he notes. In the last year, the percentage of Hamburger's grads finding employment in their chosen field was "in the high 80 percent range," and he's willing to pit his job placement capabilities against all competitors.

Hamburger's most innovative program is the DeVry Advantage Academy, a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools. By attending school year-round, Chicago high school juniors and seniors can earn an associates degree at DeVry while completing high school. There is no cost to the student.

"They come out with an associate's degree in network systems administration," he says. "The world of networks and computers is booming, so they are very employable."

The exposure to DeVry is expanding horizons. Because of the program, some of the students are considering studies in engineering, medicine and law.

"It's an example of a partnership between the public sector and the private sector that could be a model," he says.

Hamburger knows Harvard isn't for everyone, and neither is DeVry. He says, "Our students are career-focused. They are looking for hands-on education. That's always been DeVry's focus."

Squash anyone?

How do CEOs stay on top in today's competitive environment?

"I've been playing squash for more than 30 years," says Mike Greenough, CEO of SSA Global, Chicago's largest software company. The globe-trotting Greenough will be home this week to host the SSA Global 2006 Windy City Open Squash Championships.

Don't scoff at squash. There's big money to be won. Like technology, the game is fast and furious. The tourney celebrates its 25th year this week at the University Club.

Thanks to the efforts of Greenough and SSA Global Executive Vice President Graeme Cooksley, the Windy City has become one of the top 10 destinations on the pro squash tour. More than 60 of the world's top-ranked squash professionals will vie for a prize purse totaling $100,000. Play begins today, and more than 2,000 spectators are expected for the final match on Jan. 24.

"If you want to move forward faster in business, get on the court," says Greenough.

Homeland security

Gov. Blagojevich announced $325,000 in Innovative Product Grants to support creation of 40 jobs in two emerging Illinois- based homeland security technology companies. West Chicago-based RiverGlass Inc. and Naperville-based SSS Research Inc. received $150,000 and $175,000 respectively.

RiverGlass develops software that allows law enforcement agencies to share up-to-the-minute intelligence information. SSS Research develops technology that helps intelligence analysts visualize and evaluate information.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.

 

 

 ©2006 Marion Consulting Partners