Two Universities Team Up to Stay Alive, But Stop Short of Merging


Colleges never like to assume of them selves as organizations, but a expanding selection these times are dealing with the severe fact of falling enrollments and a battle to make their economic numbers include up. That has pressured many institutions to merge in new months.

But two non-public universities are making an attempt an unusual partnership method that stops short of a merger even though continue to aiming to restore money overall health.

The universities—Otterbein University and Antioch University—will share prices and jointly deal with graduate-stage courses and occupation certificates and badges for grownup learners, while hanging onto independence in their undergraduate offerings.

The hope is to provide in more profits at less value, devoid of compromising their undergraduate functions, university leaders say.

It is a kind of open partnership, a little something that they hope to scale by bringing in other institutions into what they are calling a “unique” college program. The two universities say that other private faculties have expressed preliminary desire.

Pockets of Innovation

Authorities check out the arrangement as an illustration of colleges contemplating much more collaboratively, as universities without quickly-recognizable brand name names try to obtain a niche in a time of demographic alterations and growing competitors from on the internet suppliers.

This fledgling community of colleges isn’t the only instance of new types of partnerships. Individuals in the house say there are pockets of innovation out there, striving to hold institutions from flatlining.

“I think college presidents are acknowledging that the small business model that has guided higher schooling for, gosh, virtually 250 a long time now, is damaged,” says Jeffrey Docking, president of Adrian Higher education in Michigan. Innovating is no more time a want, but “a need to have for survival” as it is develop into way too costly to retain carrying out items the old way, Docking claims.

Docking’s university is affiliated with Rize Education and the Reduced Value Types Consortium, a procedure for sharing courses across establishments. Other consortiums consist of TCS Instruction Procedure, an built-in, nonprofit system founded in 2009, that permits schools to act collaboratively with shared services companies.

Many cooperative types tend to concentrate on economic management—cutting down expenditures by taking care of back places of work collectively, for example—or on a shared religious or geographic identity, like the Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Higher Instruction, which describes what it does as “regional cooperation.”

The Antioch and Otterbein strategy, while, facilities on a shared philosophy.

One particular way ahead for little schools is to develop a unique system product. “What’s interesting about this” Mary Marcy, president of Dominican College of California, suggests, “is that somewhat than undertaking it independently, they’re truly partnering all-around a prevalent set of values and mission all-around social justice and democracy.”

They’re reinventing in a partnership devoid of both shedding their main identities that stretch back again into the abolitionist motion. And that’s quite possibly new, Marcy says.


Colleges like Otterbein just cannot tumble again on status to seize pupils. Its leaders say they wouldn’t want to.

“Otterbein has in no way truly cared about status,” says John Comerford, president of Otterbein University. “One of our preferred phrases is: ‘Do the right factor ahead of it truly is common.’ And Antioch has a related vibe.”

The focus on prestige reflects an overly competitive approach to greater ed, Comerford argues, which he claims is seriously a type of “elitism.”

“The truth is that actions of prestige are likely to measure exclusivity,” Comerford suggests, introducing, “We’d a lot instead be inclusive and deliver much more persons to higher ed, even if U.S. News will not reward us for it. We you should not care.”

As a substitute, Otterbein intends to faucet into underserved populations, he states, making it possible for institutions to function with adult learners who can step into workforce and societal needs, doing away with the will need for such serious competitiveness in between universities.

Refocusing on Grownup Studying

Section of this change will provide businesses much more into the fold as the schools create out stackable credentials—shorter certificates that learners can string alongside one another to earn more standard degrees—as component of their adult understanding programs, together with undergraduate courses and common graduate kinds.

University presidents and admissions officers are realizing that just one cause persons are not submitting into faculties any longer is because of the availability of jobs for individuals with badges fairly than a conventional 4-calendar year diploma, Docking claims.

To Antioch, it is a refocus on adult learners and a way to preserve developing relationships with businesses. There is a growing willingness of companies to train existing personnel to transfer up within just their organizations rather than bringing in new people today, claims William Groves, chancellor of Antioch University. This offers an chance to perform with students to “tailor the courses to their needs” in a way that’s fantastic-tuned, Groves claims. It’s also practical for doing work grownups, he argues.

Otterbein could not truly pull off its new tactic on its own for the reason that it can not scale to satisfy the needs of businesses, Comerford says. “But we hope this system lets us to have those conversations.”

Some professors say they welcome the possibility to get to far more grownup and continuing learners. “The principal issue that we’re fascinated in is rising alternatives for grownup learners and graduate students,” states John Tansey, a chemistry professor and faculty trustee at Otterbein. The partnership, he adds, gives them flexibility in providing people learners a way into fantastic occupations.

The new arrangement also suits with the institutions’ social-justice mission, since it engages underserved mastering populations, university leaders declare. In addition to programs that may perhaps have genuine information on these subject areas, expanding assistance to grownup learners will “act out social justice,” university leaders argue, by raising accessibility to profession possibilities.

This latest announcement may well not be a “tectonic change,” Docking says, but it’s a signal to their communities that they’re going to use the internet and hybrid understanding to improve.

The two unanswered questions about this initiative are irrespective of whether there is adequate pupil interest to make it scalable and whether or not it will make adequate economical variance to retain the institutions afloat, Docking suggests.


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Natasha M. McKnight

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