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Expanding academic initiatives through consortia

Advice from Neal Abraham, a physics professor and executive director of the Five Colleges in Massachusetts
University Business, April 2016

Creating new academic initiatives with other institutions relies on three key ingredients: interest in the program from faculty and students; commitment from each campus administration; and a reasonable opportunity for success.

This advice comes from Neal Abraham, a physics professor and executive director of the Five Colleges, Incorporated in Massachusetts. It’s the second largest consortia in the country behind the Claremont University Consortium in California.

Here are some other tips from consortia leaders:

  • Build relationships among the faculty and administrators and schedule meetings where they can relax and eat together.
  • Understand the goals and needs of each of the members.
  • Get the right institutional representatives around the table to determine what is feasible, what will have the most value, and how best to implement the programs.
  • Focus initially on providing needed services and program enhancements rather than leaping ahead to calculating net revenues and business models.
  • Plan to sustain pilot collaborations for two to three years so students and faculty can rely on the programs being offered. 

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