Posted on Jun 30, 2009

A consortium made up of Union and five other liberal arts colleges in upstate New York has received a one-year planning grant of $100,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to begin collaborative work with the goals of controlling business costs and learning from each other’s experience in areas of student life and staff development.

In addition to Union, the “New York Six” includes Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University and Skidmore College.

Stephen C. Ainlay, president of Union College, suit, 2-09

The group will focus on six broad areas of collaboration and cooperation: 

· Harnessing technology to allow for greater collaboration in all areas, with emphasis on shared human resources, high end computing collaboration and advanced computer infrastructure.

· Acquiring of goods and services, including benchmarking, joint purchasing and risk management.

· Promoting sustainable institutional environments, including recycling operations and alternative energy supplies.

· Maximizing student engagement, including wellness programming, alcohol and substance abuse intervention strategies, responses to differential learning styles and collaboration among teaching and learning centers.

· Shaping workforces, including faculty development, staff development and preparation of future academic leaders.

· Fostering intercultural literacy, including strategies for ensuring our students are prepared to live in a global and diverse world.

“Upstate New York is blessed with some of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, and the opportunity to share our resources and expertise will greatly benefit each of us,” said Union President Stephen C. Ainlay. “This collaboration will expand opportunities for our students while controlling costs, changing the model of higher education management for the foreseeable future.”

The consortium, which will be headquarterd at Hamilton College due to its central location, has hired a project manager, Amy Doonan Cronin, who will work in consultation with presidents, chief financial officers, directors of information technology and others on each campus. In the area of information technology, directors at the six schools already have begun working together on potential collaborations. Groups of administrators and staff in student affairs, teaching and learning centers and human resources, as well as academic deans and members of the faculty, will also work together.

Cronin, most recently a public relations and management consultant in Ithaca, N.Y., spent eight years in the Office of the President at the University of Virginia, five as the President’s special assistant and chief of staff. In that role, she was closely involved in the university’s engagement in two consortia – the Atlantic Coast Conference International Academic Collaborative and Universitas 21, a global network of leading comprehensive universities.