By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

Cleary University’s incoming president is ready to help continue the school’s tradition of preparing students for the labor market in a way that will make them stand out.

On July 1st, Dr. Alan Drimmer will officially take office as Cleary’s 11th president. In his 20 years of administrative experience, he has served as Provost at National Defense University, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Vice President at the University of Maryland Global Campus and University of Phoenix, and President of Western International and American InterContinental universities.

Drimmer said one of the things that attracted him to the university is how Cleary goes beyond what many other schools may provide. “I was really very excited by the fact that Cleary is trying to address the skills gap in this country, because it’s just very striking that, on one hand, we have significant unemployment in this country. On the other hand, employers are telling us that they’re not able to find the employees that they need. The primary thing that drew me to them is that they’re trying to address that, trying to solve that problem and they’re trying to do that by going out, by talking to employers, look for commonalities and then build it into the curriculum.”

Drimmer said one of his goals is to expand the awareness of the innovative teaching at the university. He talked about experiential learning and putting students into situations where they have to think on their feet. He said while there are always going to be requirements such as reading a textbook or listening to a lecture, he is a fan of “learning by doing.”

One of the hurdles of higher education for many is the cost. Drimmer said he believes they can focus on the student experience while opening up great pathways to jobs while keeping college affordable. “We try to help students use all of those credits, not just credits that they’ve earned, but also credits for skills that they have and might have developed at a job or other places. And if you do that, what you do is actually shrink the length of the program. You know, college doesn’t have to be four years. College can be less if you’re bringing in credit and when you shrink the length of the program, you shrink the cost of the program. So that’s not just a side issue with us, that’s key to keeping the cost moderate.”

Drimmer added that one of the most important investments the school can make is in staff, as he sees the relationships between students and teachers as a primary reason for students remaining in school. The teacher-student relationship is key, with Drimmer saying that as educators, they need to be able to break down barriers and let students they are not alone, and in doing so, that will help keep them on track. What students tend to remember most from the college experience, he offered, was a faculty member or two that cared about them.

Drimmer also wants to continue Cleary’s online learning opportunities in order to continue providing flexibility for students. He recognized that many people may prefer to learn in a face-to-face manner, but also that not everyone can do so - particularly adults with busy lives.

Drimmer was a guest on WHMI’s Viewpoint, this past Sunday morning at 8:30. His conversation with WHMI's Jon King, who serves as an adjunct faculty member at Cleary, is below.