Nell Butler Thiyagarajan


Marquette University Faculty Externship Program: Building Collaborative Relationships through Innovative Engagement

RECORDED ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 2021 | 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. CT

Presented by

  • Dr. Carmel Ruffolo, Associate Vice President of Corporate Engagement, Office of Economic Engagement
  • MaryNell Ryan, Sp '79, Professional Development Manager, Next Door
  • Wendy Butler, Grad ' 13, '16, Adjunct Instructor in the College of Business Administration, and Director of Organizational Development in the Department of Human Resources
  • Moderated by Sumathi Thiyagarajan, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement Operations, Office of Economic Engagement

Are you looking for a creative way to generate innovative ideas for your organization’s most pressing challenges? Have you considered how you might build more intentional and collaborative relationships with key Marquette thought leaders? Or, broaden your organization’s network? This summer, Marquette University’s Office of Economic Engagement launched the Faculty Externship Program, which pairs Marquette faculty members with a regional corporate or community partner for a mutually beneficial experience impacting research and talent development. The competitive program allows faculty to have an immersive experience learning about issues facing various industries and community organizations.

The externship is aimed at creating two benefits: 1) providing an opportunity to explore new research areas; and, 2) enhancing faculty’s pedagogical approaches allowing them to bring their externship experience into the classroom and engage students in real-world projects. Simultaneously, Froedtert Hospital and Next Door, two external partners selected for the pilot, gained expertise from faculty participants and broadened their access to future talent.
Learn about this unique program from some of the dynamic professionals who participated, and explore how your organization might engage in this innovative opportunity through Marquette University.

More about this session

Dr. Carmel Ruffolo received a Bachelors of Science with honors and Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Northwestern University. Her research interests included bacterial molecular pathogenesis, gram negative outer membrane protein function and immunogenicity, and infectious diseases of the Pasteurellaceae, specifically animal and human dental diseases.

Before joining the Office of Economic Engagement at Marquette University, Dr. Ruffolo dedicated 17 years at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Southeastern Wisconsin as an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. At Parkside, she was a passionate advocate for collaboration, becoming the founding director of the Center for Health Studies and First Year Experience program, and helped to create the Applied Health program. Dr. Ruffolo also developed Celebrazione Italiana, a fundraising event to support the Italian Exchange program, and established the exchange agreement with the University of Western Sydney in Australia. She later moved to Marquette University as the Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation before stepping into her current role of Associate Vice President for Corporate Engagement.

As the Associate Vice President for Corporate Engagement, Dr. Ruffolo provides critical leadership with the university’s engagement with corporations and external stakeholders. She also oversees the institution’s corporate sponsored research and technology transfer activities that aim to advance the university’s mission. In order to create mutually beneficial relationships with Marquette’s corporate partners, Dr. Ruffolo works to create cross-functional teams that can leverage and align our assets and resources with the needs and resources of corporations.

MaryNell Ryan, Sp '79, is the Professional Development Manager at the Next Door Foundation where she and her team design and deliver training, learning and leader development for the teachers and staff at this 50 year-old agency that provides top quality Early Childhood Education and family support.

MaryNell has spent her career in learning and organizational development in both for profit and non-profit organizations in the Milwaukee area. She is a graduate of Marquette and earned her Masters degree at UWM. MaryNell comes from a long line of Marquette connections – including her grandfather who was the head basketball and football coach at MU and his photo still hangs in the old gym on 16th & Clybourne. MaryNell is delighted to partner with Marquette and Wendy Butler in crafting a leadership development program to prepare aspiring leaders for the challenges and impact of the Next Door Foundation.

Wendy Butler, Grad '13, '16, is responsible for designing and leading organizational development and improvement initiatives that cut across all departments, Wendy draws on her broad range of experience to create effective employee engagement strategies. She leads various initiatives related to leadership development, performance management, continuous improvement, change management, program analysis and impact, and contributes to building strategy, goals, tactics and tools for the University and the Human Resources department. Previous to Marquette, Wendy worked at Children’s Wisconsin in the Organizational Development department and Performance Improvement, focusing on child and family experience.

Wendy teaches Organizational Development in the Graduate School of Management at Marquette, is a certified DiSC® Everything Workplace facilitator, a ProSci® change management practitioner, and a member of the Southeastern Wisconsin Association for Talent Development. She is a volunteer trainer/coach for United Way of Greater Milwaukee, speaks at various association events throughout the region and was selected to participate in Marquette University’s Faculty Externship program in July 2020, where she worked with the Next Door Foundation to create an Inspiring Leaders program. Wendy holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a certificate in Leadership Studies and a MS in Human Resources, both from Marquette University.

Sumathi Thiyagarajan is the Senior Director of Operations for the Office of Economic Engagement (OEE) at Marquette University. In this capacity, she is responsible for translating strategy to operational structures, processes and programs. She is charged with program management of Marquette’s partnership with the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. Her goal is to build, implement and scale best practices needed for Marquette’s future large-scale strategic partnerships.

Prior to this role, Sumathi served in the Office of the President on the implementation of the 10-year institutional strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries. She created infrastructure to advance the tactical work of the plan. She also served as the President’s liaison on several institutional strategic initiatives such as the Community Engagement Task Force and the President’s Challenge.

Prior to joining Marquette, Sumathi worked across multiple entities within the healthcare sector. Within Milwaukee, she worked at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin managing several enterprise-level projects to drive organizational change. She has held many leadership, strategy and analytics roles at companies such as ZS Associates (global healthcare consulting firm), EMD Serono (biopharmaceutical company), the American Medical Association (largest national non-profit physician membership organization) and the University of Chicago Medical Center (urban academic medical center). Across these various roles she helped develop strategies, define goals, measure KPIs and implement plans.

Sumathi completed her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Benedictine University (Illinois) and a master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is currently pursuing her MBA at Marquette University. She is also a certified Project Management Professional.




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