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Strength in Numbers

July/August 2017

By Preeti Vasishtha

Collaborations among institutions can be a driving force to improve services, gain financial benefits, and help achieve student success.

There’s always strength in numbers, and this certainly applies to higher education. When institutions make a concerted effort to collaborate with each other on high-impact areas, and share their examples or services throughout the industry, then this has the potential to fundamentally change the way colleges and universities serve both students and society.

As described in the article “Multipurpose Data,” one such area is data analytics—whether institutions apply the technique to recruit students, benchmark productivity, optimize classroom space, or improve the overall student experience. Several business officers share their missteps and successes so that others may learn from them.

Another way to achieve the kind of transformational change that individual institutions may not be able to accomplish on their own is through consortia. Shared services have come a long way since the founding of the Claremont Colleges in 1925, which marked the first formal, voluntary association of higher education institutions linked for academic cooperation. The article “Mutual Benefits” explains how different consortia today are collaborating on library operations, self-funded health plans, academic and co-curricular activities, security, procurement, and more. Campus leaders share their thoughts on what institutions can do to make participation in consortia a successful experience.

Today, the sharing of ideas and cooperation among institutions goes beyond these traditional areas. As described in the article “Protecting Pollinators,” many colleges and universities across the country have been inspired by the pollinator activities of campuses such as the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Encouraged by that nearby institution, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, has added several pollinator activities in an effort to avoid negative ecological and economic impacts.

These articles describe just a small sampling of how institutions are working together—and finding success. Collaborations can produce impressive results—both financially and academically. Such initiatives can sustain individual institutions, while ensuring the success of higher education as a whole.

PREETI VASISHTHA is deputy editor of Business Officer.