Students may be able to see the benefits of the new, groundbreaking partnership between Montclair State University and Sony Electronics as early as Fall 2016, a university official said this week.
The strategic alliance, announced on Feb. 16, is the first of many expected partnerships between corporations and the university, said Jack Shannon, Vice President for University Advancement.
“[Strategic partnerships] that [provide] practical applications of what students are learning are just absolutely fantastic,” said John Scorsone, a business professor at Montclair State who has both worked in corporate America and owned his own business. “The basis of them is that they’re ‘win-win’ propositions.”
The partnership with Sony largely serves to furnish the new School of Communication and Media building with state-of-the art equipment and to provide students in the school’s programs with resources from industry professionals through applicable skills and career opportunities.
Among the many technological features that Sony will supply are studio-quality cameras for filming and photography, a laser film projector for screenings, electronics for the facility’s cooperative newsroom and a 4K-resolution studio — the only one of its caliber located on a university campus in the United States.
Beyond these contributions, however, Sony will provide the university with preferred customer pricing and extended warranties on their equipment as well as technological briefings for their products.
Students will also directly benefit from Montclair State’s partnership with Sony. The corporation will pay housing and registration fees for five students to attend the annual National Association of Broadcasters conference and will take on at least three Montclair State students as interns each year.
Internships may be geared more toward students within the School of Communication and Media at first, but Merrill Brown, the school’s director, said that eventually, opportunities for interning may expand.
“Sony has pledged to look at internship opportunities for our students at their film studios in Los Angeles [and] at their businesses here in marketing,” Brown said. “All these conversations are just beginning and the conversations are quite broad at the moment. They’ll narrow as we go through, but it could be marketing, it could be technology, it could be tradeshows [or] it could be filmmaking at Sony Studios.”
In exchange for these services, Sony will also use the facility at Montclair State for its own training purposes, bringing media professionals to the studio spaces at the university for programs and training, Brown said. He also said that these activities will not interfere with student access to the new building’s labs and creative spaces.
“[Sony] intends for this to be a showpiece,” said Brown. “They would like to be doing demos when they bring [potential customers and users] through, and all of that is great for us because it’s showing off our school and giving people the opportunity to see our campus and engage with our faculty, staff and students in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise.”
Senior Fabricio Costa, a journalism major, agrees with Brown that the new facility and its resources will make Montclair State more of a destination in the field of media. “I think the partnership with Sony is an incredible chance for Montclair State to solidify its place as one of the top schools for communication and digital media in the country. It will not only provide students with brand new state-of-the-art technology, but also seduce new college students and anyone considering enrolling at Montclair State University.”
Scorsone also pointed out that, by providing products to use in the classroom, Sony allows students to become acquainted with their products so that when they enter the industry, they can transition into positions that use Sony equipment more easily or even recommend Sony products to their employers.
Though it may appear that corporations and universities are partnering more frequently now than in years past, Penelope Vance, Associate Vice President of Corporate and Foundation Strategy, said that universities and corporations have been partnering for years, though the kind of alliances between them have generally changed.
“[Corporations now] look for relationships where vision and mission of both organizations are aligned and where they can become a part of the life of the institution for a prolonged period of time,” said Vance. “In this way they are able to show their shareholders, their board and their customers that they are using company resources wisely and with outcomes that benefit the organization’s future as well as that of the school they have chosen to partner with.”
Brown said that long-term plans for how Sony will incorporate itself into the daily life of Montclair State students are still being worked out, but he anticipates that there will be “as much engagement of our students with their people as we can arrange.” Sony may have an office space in the new building, according to Brown, and may also provide training or master classes to students in the field of communication and media.
“This partnership [that] the university [has] established is something we should be proud of,” said Juan Contla, a senior English major who works at WMSC, Montclair State’s radio station. “Our administration is investing heavily in our hands-on experience, and it’s exciting. I can’t wait to work on all this new equipment. This alliance not only makes our school and university more appealing, but will give students an edge in future endeavors like jobs.”