Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business plans to launch its first open enrollment off-campus program in The Woodlands this fall, responding to demand for its executive education programs for those in business and leadership roles.

Executive education consists of non-degree programs for working professionals in management or executive roles, said Zoran Perunovic, director of executive education at Rice Business School.

“We saw a potential in The Woodlands,” Perunovic said. 

Executive education programs could help to develop talent in The Woodlands in a way that does not currently exist, he said. 

“There’s a number of highly educated people moving into the region, regardless of if they are working in The Woodlands or somewhere else,” Perunovic said.

Perunovic said he pitched the idea to Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, in August 2018 to create an opportunity for Rice Business School to be part of The Woodlands ecosystem. The Woodlands EDP, a nonprofit organization promoting economic development in The Woodlands area, collaborated with Rice to bring the program to the former Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. office buildings at 2103 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, in Hughes Landing.

“We are excited to see their Leadership Accelerator class come to our community,” Staley said. “The diverse group of companies that call The Woodlands home is perfectly suited for this type of program.”

The open-enrollment courses would ideally consist of about 30 enrollees, Perunovic said.

Brent Smith, senior associate dean of Rice Business Executive Education, said a large percentage of classes in the department are already made up of individuals from companies based in The Woodlands.

“We started to realize it would just be much better service to that community if we took that program there rather than have them drive into the center of Houston,” he said.

The Leadership Accelerator program is suitable for anyone in a mid- to senior-level management role, he said.

Executive education program participants will receive a Rice University certificate.

“I’d think that The Woodlands area has fantastic strategic potential,” Perunovic said. “You need [to] have that executive education offering in such a booming and progressive region.”