Park University advertises it everywhere – on billboards around the metro, at Park.edu, across social media channels – Park University is the Higher Education Partner of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs are playing in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2, so campus has been abuzz with excitement. Mackay Hall has been lit up for Red Friday. It’s a pretty big deal for the team and the city, and it seems to be a big deal for Park, too.
This is the second NFL season of the partnership, according to Park University Chief Operating Officer Shane Smeed. He said the idea stemmed from asking “how well do people understand and know who Park University is, in the Kansas City area?” That spurred university leadership to seek out a partnership with another Kansas City brand. The Chiefs were one that Smeed said has the same “incredible legacy” as the school.
“I think without question the Kansas City Chiefs brand is more transcendent than any other brand in the city,” he said. “So, we put two remarkable brands together.”
According to Smeed, this partnership is designed to benefit not only members of the Chiefs organization, but Park students as well. As of now, Smeed said at least 10 percent of the Chiefs organization is participating in the partnership program, from office employees to players. Their participation generally means they are taking Park University courses, from undergraduate to the graduate level.
According to Jayme Uden, dean of students, some student organizations have also benefited from the partnership, such as members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Park Student Government Association. Smeed also said the Chiefs will, “dedicate an internship spot for a Park student.”
While Park University students have shared some excitement about the opportunities of this partnership, they aren’t really sure how to take advantage of it. For example, Christian Leonard, president of PSGA, said that to his knowledge, PSGA has not interacted with any members of the Chiefs organization, but he would welcome that opportunity.
“I am looking forward to talking with someone from the Chiefs organization,” said Christian Leonard, president of Park’s PSGA. “I think it has the potential of teaching us about how to better run a team or organization, how to work together, and how to be successful outside of just our own personal goals and experiences.”
Similarly, students from SAAC and Park Student Activities Board said they have not had any exposure or opportunities with the Chiefs organization.
“As a student athlete, I don’t get any benefits for the school being partnered with the Chiefs,” said Dakota Soukup, a senior multimedia journalism and public relations major. “I wish we had the opportunity to shadow someone at the Chiefs or intern.”
An afternoon in Norrington Center, presented the same results, over different majors and years at Park. No one really seems to know what it’s all about.
“I saw a billboard about it once,” said Abby Hatch, a junior social work major. “That’s about it.”
Anna Scott, freshman graphic design major, said “I just know we’re the higher education partner of the Kansas City Chiefs, that’s about it.”
Despite a disconnect between Park administration and the student body on how exactly this relationship works, the consensus is – Park University wishes the Kansas City Chiefs the best of luck in Super Bowl LIV.