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Howard University, in cooperation with CRM software company HubSpot, is launching a new Center for Digital Business on its Washington, DC, campus with the eventual goal of offering degree concentrations in digital business.

“In order for our students to remain competitive, it is critical that they have a level of training and experience incorporating technology in various business strategies. The new center will no doubt accelerate our efforts in this area,” said Anthony Wilbon, dean of the Howard University School of Business.

Howard University plans to use the Center for Digital Business to offer for-credit courses starting in the spring 2021 semester, beginning with training on how to conduct social media audits and learn more about business consulting and digital marketing tools. As time goes on, Howard will extend the range of academic courses at the center, eventually offering academic certificates, degree concentrations, and non-academic opportunities as well.

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“Programming for the center will focus on three key areas: academic offerings, experiential learning opportunities and support for job readiness,” HubSpot said in a press release. Guest lectures, clubs, opportunities to provide consulting services, and other initiatives will all be part of the center’s offering to Howard University students.

HubSpot is also contributing to the center by providing programming, building academic courses in multiple relevant areas, startup competitions, and career fairs.

HubSpot will kick in financial contributions for five years, extending and cementing its commitments at the historically black university that began in 2018.

HubSpot’s collaboration with Howard University is also right in line with Forrester’s predictions that 2021 would bring large tech companies into the education game. Forrester predicted that at least one tech giant would “buy a significant stake in an accredited college or university, creating the shortcut they need to extend their current education initiatives and shape their future workforces.”

Whether or not HubSpot sees its investment as one that will pay dividends once Howard University begins graduating digital business professionals trained on a curriculum that it had a hand in crafting is unknown. HubSpot did say in a press release that the center has “the intention of creating a pipeline of diverse professionals proficient in digital strategies,” but that doesn’t mean HubSpot will snatch those professionals up.

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It’s more likely that the Center for Digital Business will help any and all businesses looking to move into the newest age of business. “The center will … provide resources, including mentorship opportunities, to help students launch thriving careers in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship and the broader technology sector,” HubSpot said.

“We hope that students engaging with the center will take with them the current and in-demand skills needed to excel in corporate jobs. And most importantly, we plan for them to be equipped with the tools needed to create their own successful businesses,” said Yuvay Meyers Ferguson, marketing professor and associate dean of impact and engagement at Howard University School of Business.