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

ByFreda D. Cuevas

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Schools really do not like to imagine of themselves as firms, but a expanding quantity these times are facing the severe reality of slipping enrollments and a struggle to make their fiscal figures insert up. That has pressured various institutions to merge in new months.

But two non-public universities are striving an strange partnership technique that stops brief of a merger although nevertheless aiming to restore money health.

The universities—Otterbein University and Antioch University—will share prices and jointly take care of graduate-degree classes and career certificates and badges for adult learners, even though hanging onto independence in their undergraduate offerings.

The hope is to bring in far more earnings at much less charge, without the need of compromising their undergraduate operations, university leaders say.

It’s a type of open partnership, anything that they hope to scale by bringing in other institutions into what they are contacting a “unique” university system. The two universities say that other non-public schools have expressed first desire.

Pockets of Innovation

Authorities view the arrangement as an case in point of schools thinking extra collaboratively, as universities without the need of instantaneously-recognizable model names attempt to find a market in a time of demographic changes and escalating opposition from on line companies.

This fledgling network of faculties isn’t the only instance of new types of partnerships. People in the place say there are pockets of innovation out there, seeking to hold institutions from flatlining.

“I think college presidents are knowing that the company design that has guided greater training for, gosh, virtually 250 years now, is damaged,” suggests Jeffrey Docking, president of Adrian School in Michigan. Innovating is no lengthier a want, but “a will need for survival” as it’s develop into way too costly to continue to keep performing points the previous way, Docking suggests.

Docking’s school is affiliated with Rize Schooling and the Decrease Price Styles Consortium, a process for sharing classes throughout institutions. Other consortiums incorporate TCS Schooling Procedure, an integrated, nonprofit process started in 2009, that enables faculties to act collaboratively with shared solutions corporations.

Numerous cooperative styles are inclined to concentrate on fiscal management—cutting down prices by managing again places of work together, for example—or on a shared religious or geographic identification, like the Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Increased Education, which describes what it does as “regional cooperation.”

The Antioch and Otterbein approach, though, facilities on a shared philosophy.

A single way ahead for tiny faculties is to generate a distinct software model. “What’s appealing about this” Mary Marcy, president of Dominican College of California, says, “is that fairly than doing it independently, they are truly partnering close to a typical set of values and mission all around social justice and democracy.”

They are reinventing in a partnership with out either losing their core identities that extend again into the abolitionist movement. And which is possibly new, Marcy states.


Faculties like Otterbein can’t drop back on status to seize pupils. Its leaders say they wouldn’t want to.

“Otterbein has in no way truly cared about status,” states John Comerford, president of Otterbein College. “One of our preferred phrases is: ‘Do the appropriate thing prior to it’s common.’ And Antioch has a equivalent vibe.”

The emphasis on prestige reflects an extremely aggressive approach to larger ed, Comerford argues, which he says is seriously a form of “elitism.”

“The actuality is that measures of status are inclined to evaluate exclusivity,” Comerford states, incorporating, “We’d substantially relatively be inclusive and carry more men and women to better ed, even if U.S. News will never reward us for it. We will not care.”

In its place, Otterbein intends to tap into underserved populations, he says, enabling establishments to operate with grownup learners who can phase into workforce and societal desires, eradicating the will need for such excessive competitiveness in between universities.

Refocusing on Grownup Understanding

Section of this shift will convey organizations more into the fold as the colleges create out stackable credentials—shorter certificates that learners can string jointly to earn additional traditional degrees—as part of their adult studying packages, along with undergraduate programs and regular graduate kinds.

School presidents and admissions officers are recognizing that one motive people today are not submitting into schools anymore is simply because of the availability of jobs for those with badges fairly than a standard four-12 months diploma, Docking claims.

To Antioch, it’s a refocus on grownup learners and a way to keep growing relationships with firms. There is a escalating willingness of companies to practice present personnel to transfer up inside their organizations rather than bringing in new folks, claims William Groves, chancellor of Antioch University. This offers an chance to work with college students to “tailor the programs to their needs” in a way which is good-tuned, Groves suggests. It’s also hassle-free for working grown ups, he argues.

Otterbein couldn’t really pull off its new method on its own simply because it simply cannot scale to meet the wants of employers, Comerford says. “But we hope this method lets us to have people conversations.”

Some professors say they welcome the probability to attain more adult and continuing learners. “The primary thing that we’re fascinated in is raising options for adult learners and graduate college students,” suggests John Tansey, a chemistry professor and school trustee at Otterbein. The partnership, he adds, gives them adaptability in giving all those pupils a way into superior occupations.

The new arrangement also suits with the institutions’ social-justice mission, considering the fact that it engages underserved understanding populations, university leaders assert. In addition to programs that may well have precise information on these subjects, increasing assistance to grownup learners will “act out social justice,” college leaders argue, by growing accessibility to career prospects.

This hottest announcement may not be a “tectonic modify,” Docking states, but it is a signal to their communities that they’re going to use the net and hybrid studying to adjust.

The two unanswered inquiries about this initiative are irrespective of whether there’s ample student interest to make it scalable and whether it will make plenty of monetary distinction to maintain the establishments afloat, Docking states.


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