Foremost, Davenport Neighboring

January 3, 2005
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CALEDONIA — Foremost Insurance Group employees continuing their education through Davenport University are going to see their drive to class become significantly shorter.

As part of an articulation agreement signed by Foremost President F. Robert Woudstra and Davenport President Randolph Flechsig last month, Foremost employees will now receive college credit for career development courses they take at work.

That arrangement will become even more valuable to Foremost employees this fall when Davenport University's new W.A. Lettinga Campus opens next door to Foremost in Caledonia Township.

"When we began to realize that we're not just going to be partners but neighbors, too, we saw an even greater potential for opportunities," Flechsig explained.

"The idea was: Let's begin offering courses at Foremost now and begin giving people the accessibility they'll soon have in the new facility."

Under the agreement, many of the insurance courses that have been offered to Foremost employees for the purpose of professional development will be accepted by Davenport as transfer credits.

The courses — including those transferable as Introduction to Claims, Introduction to Risk Management, Introduction to Underwriting and Business Writing — have been evaluated by the Davenport registrar and meet curriculum standards approved by American Council on Education.  

Foremost employees have the option of applying those credits toward a four-year degree made easily accessible by the neighboring location.

Thanks to Foremost's tuition reimbursement program, pursuit of a degree also is affordable.

"With the school's location right across the street from our office here, it creates the opportunity where we have employees continuing their education in close proximity," Woudstra said.

"They can take evening classes when they get off work, and because Davenport was willing to recognize the quality of our in-house training programs, they are allowed to transfer those for credit.

"Supporting the professional growth of our employees always has been an essential part of our success," Woudstra added.

"That is why the company is willing to put up the money for these programs. It allows us to have a higher-educated work force, and that translates into business opportunity for us."

Davenport has signed a number of articulation agreements with West Michigan employers in recent years, including Cascade Engineering and Siemens Dematic.

This past June, Cascade hosted a graduation ceremony onsite for its first two employees to complete the program.

"One of our goals is to work with employers and their work forces," Flechsig said. "We try to break down the walls between the classroom and the workplace and provide their employees a continuum of educational opportunities."

To date, all of Davenport's large articulation agreements have been with manufacturers.

This is its first such partnership with a service provider, which, Flechsig explained, just happens to coincide with the 2005 launch of the school's bachelor's degree in service management and marketing.    

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