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Farmer School Partners with Nielsen to Benefit Students

January 2012

By Clarissa Wei, a spring 2012 USA TODAY collegiate correspondent and junior at New York University. This article was originally published by USA Today in their online "college" edition (January 27, 2012). Reprinted with permission.

When students at Miami University's Farmer School of Business in Ohio returned to school last year they noticed a new office with a rather different name on the door: Nielsen.

Since 2010, Nielsen, the famous audience measurement company, has established relationships with various universities across the nation to provide their products and services for the classroom. In return, they receive talent, introduce Nielsen services to the new generation and utilize classroom data for research.

"The comprehensive program includes career fairs, information sessions, and working with diverse organizations on college campuses," Jennifer Frighetto, a Nielsen spokesperson said. "We also offer mentoring and networking opportunities and at some schools, the opportunity for students to further their business experience while working on case study competitions."

Miami University's arrangement with Nielsen is part of a growing trend that other universities including NYU, Northwestern, Cornell, Rutgers, and the University of Florida, have been involved in.

"It's a mutually beneficial relationship," Dustin Buecker, the vice president of central U.S. accounts at Nielsen said. "We're there to act like a resource for professors and provide examples of equity issues and survey techniques."

Since the beginning of the alliance, professors have been noticing the positive impact on students.

"You'll find that our top students are very interested in Nielsen," Gillian Oakenfull, an associate professor of Marketing at The Farmer School of Business said. "The decisions the students are using for other clients are much better informed because they're using much better data."

With Nielsen employees on campus two to three days a week, students in these universities have a higher chance of landing a job with the company. According to Buecker, Nielsen is one of Miami's top recruiters.

"In terms of employment, we recommend students to them and they ask us for feedback because we work so intensely with the student," Oakenfull said.

"By working so closely together, we make sure that our best students are on their radar for job opportunities. We don't want Nielsen to overlook any of our shining stars," Tim Greenlee, a full professor at The Farmer School who also is involved in the Miami-Nielsen alliance added. "There's a lot of trust between Nielsen and the Farmer School and that's what makes the partnership work."

While professors and students are using Nielsen's data to develop the curriculum, Nielsen is using the schools as learning experiences.

"The collaboration continues the educational experience for our employees," Buecker said. "It's great for our associates to be able to get the experience of being able to present. It's a training ground for us."

Buecker foresees the program expanding to other business schools across the nation. The goal: to integrate the company's services into the colleges so that students would be more inclined to use them post-graduation.

As for Dr. Greenlee, who is the co-director (along with Dr. Oakenfull) of the Miami-Nielsen Alliance, it's a win-win situation. "We're a public university so we're somewhat limited from what we get but Nielsen walked in and gave money and they invite us down," he said. "What more could you want? It's really an ideal partnership."