Category Archives: Partnership

Innovation Award

SOCHE received a Dayton Business Journal Innovation Index Award last night, along with one of its founding members, Sinclair Community College. The vital role of collaborative partnerships clearly stood out in the remarks of the honorees, as well as the recognition that innovative organizations have collaboration in their DNA.  It is through collaboration they are able to extend their reach, programs, and impact.

Congrats to all the honorees for their commitment to collaboration.

Homage to Benjamin Franklin: Forefather of Collaboration

I had the good fortune of spending the 4th of July in Philadelphia, America’s first city. Having not been there before, I found myself wondering, where have you been my whole life Philly? Until now, I didn’t know how much I missed you…your history, artists, museums, mosaics, and murals…your old narrow city streets, magic garden and harbor, amongst green space, squares, and fountains. Until now, I didn’t know how much I missed your mixologists, Vedge, cheesesteak, and world markets…your neighborhoods, working class, professors, and hipsters, locals and transplants…your roots, love, Wawa, Independence Day, and grand finale booms at PAM. Until now, I didn’t realize how much I missed your jawn and, especially, Ben Franklin.

Hence, Ben, I pay homage to you, as an innovator and forefather of collaborative problem solving. Indeed, you created one of the first collaborative clubs in America (The Junto), a group of citizens that met regularly to improve their minds and strengthen their community. Ben, you valued diverse perspectives and felt that this brain trust of people could solve social, political, and business problems better together than could any single person. Consequently, out of collaborative thinking emerged many of your historic contributions that continue to underpin our society. Thank you, Ben, for the good you have done, and for motivating us citizens by always asking the question:


We cannot wait to see you again Philly.

The Future is Written with Collaboration

At the SOCHE board of trustees meeting June 19, we had the pleasure of talking with Scott Jaschik, co-founder and editor of INSIDE HIGHER ED. Scott provided an informed and insightful perspective on the landscape of higher education and the major challenges it is facing currently. After much discussion, we closed with a question about the future and what higher education will look like in 2067 when SOCHE turns 100. Scott’s reply couldn’t have been more perfect in recognizing that collaboration will be central to the future of higher education; particularly, but not limited to, small colleges and their ability to forge sustainable partnerships. SOCHE has a fifty-year head start and is perfectly positioned to help shape higher ed’s future; a future that is unwritten, undergoing sustainable change, and requires higher collaboration beyond rhetoric.

Small College is Earth’s Social Entrepreneur

A colleague and I have been fleshing out a concept paper for a small college to take the lead in being a social entrepreneur college. This is the start…

Small College will be Earth’s Social Entrepreneur. Faculty, staff, and students will internalize and then project the imperative to produce transformational benefits in our community, nation, and humanity, writ large. In pursuit of this vision, Small College will become a flagship among the world’s most respected academic intuitions, admitting only the best-qualified applicants and recruiting elite faculty who passionately share the college’s vision.

Small College will focus on revolutionary solutions to the most pressing topics on the horizon. Initially, we will capitalize on the present assets at Small College: alternative energy and organic agri- and aqua-culture. In the coming years, we will expand our focus to develop novel entrepreneurial solutions in global diplomacy and caring for an aging worldwide population, as we unpack Small College’s focus also on: water, food, energy, health, governance, and education. Faculty, students, and administration will work together to reorient Small College to provide a decidedly non-traditional and foundational liberal arts education to catalyze collaborative, entrepreneurial, and design thinking based solutions for novel, insightful, and innovative solutions that will improve Earth’s future locally, nationally, and internationally.

The curriculum will focus on the knowledge of what to know, how to develop, and then how to implement evidence-based policy, public affairs, applied research, and advanced technologies. The curriculum will be concretized by the fostering of business start-ups that bring the learning experience into personal, professional, and social relationships. Small College will operate as an entrepreneurial liberal arts research and commercialization college. By identifying and acting as such, Small College will attract faculty, students, and staff that passionately transition their education into a vocation that thrives in the pursuit positive change. Small College will be an unequaled incubator that unlocks the imagination of the world’s best and brightest students in a marriage – not a simple colocation – of scientific, social, artistic, and humanitarian. The Small College of the future will be a leader in policy, industry, and innovation that is passionately supported by the faculty, staff, students and surrounding academic and industry communities.

Implementation of the Small College of the future requires a deep and unsurpassed cooperation among industry, government, and academia. This will be implemented via the following steps. First, like a traditional college, Small College will charge tuition, room, and board. However, in order to fulfill the promise of the transition of knowledge into solutions, Small College will assess a one-time fee of $20,000 for entering students. This fee will seed and sustain a Innovation Fund of venture capital from which graduates can draw to implement solutions to Earth’s most pressing problems. This fee will be collected from the 500 students (125 per year) such that the first accredited graduating class will have a fund of $10 million from which they can draw to seed businesses that will implement and sustain innovation. The value of the Innovation Fund can be developed further but contributions from the faculty and staff. The Innovation Fund benefits the Small College community in multiple ways. First, the graduates gain access to the funds to support the development of their startups. Second, students, faculty, and staff who contributed to the Innovation Fund own shares that gain value with the entrepreneurial successes of Small College. Finally, Small College owns a share of the fund that will provide a revenue stream for the continuing investments in personnel, infrastructure, and, most importantly, facilities necessary to maintain and expand the vision and mission at Small College.

To be continued….

Students Central to Innovation

Henry Etzkowitz initiated the concept of the Triple Helix partnership in the 1990s, understanding the university’s forte in knowledge production could result in entrepreneurial output. The concept is that “innovation and economic development lies in a more prominent role for the university in partnering with industry and government to generate new institutional and social formats for the production, transfer and application of knowledge.” In this scenario: 1) university acts like an entrepreneur, focusing on commercialization of their research; 2) industry acts like a university, partnering on research development, loosening their protective, private sector boundaries; and 3) government becomes the venture capitalist, providing an infusion of financial resources into the equation. It is an ideal ecosystem in which the university drives innovation, and has the established relationships and financial backing to bring their research to life.

Do you know why Etzkowitz pronounced the university is more innovative than any type of organization that produces knowledge? Answer: pipeline of students. Unlike any other business, fresh talent is constantly flowing into the university system, contributing new ideas, diverse perspectives, and, therefore, unlimited creativity. Southwest Ohio is fortunate with over 20 colleges and universities and more than 120,000 students. Also, we have the perfect makings for the Triple Helix partnership: 1) strong higher education cluster; 2) strong government presence with WPAFB; and 3) major business interested in technological innovation. Most importantly, we have the curricular ability to marrying the sciences, arts, and humanities with the passion of our college and university students–which is truly the key to innovation.

Higher Education 2067

SOCHE will turn 100 in 2067 and we are posing the question to our members: what will higher education look like in 52 years?

a) No Title IX incidents
b) No student debt
c) Unlimited federal and state support for instruction
d) Low tuition, room/board, and fees
e) Big market share of high school graduates
f)  No difference between traditional and non-traditional students
g) 85-95% retention and completion rates
h) Abundance of classroom space and human capital to handle higher enrollments
i) Perfect balance of part-time practitioners and full-time scholars
j) No developmental education required
k) International student population assimilated on campuses
l) Globalized curriculum
m) Crisis on campus minimized
n) Choice of pathways that align with specific industry needs, prepare you for effective citizenship and leadership, or educate you to build your community.
o)  College educated workforce above 67 percent
p) Role of MOOCs and its resistance to commodification
q) For-profit higher education sector bankrupt
r) Higher Learning Commission EZ forms available to most campuses
s) Return on investment of a college degree reaches new peak
t) Public proud of public dollars spent on higher education
u) Resources abundant for technology upgrades
v) Safety on campuses reaches new peak
w) Affordable Health Care Act creates budget relief for campuses
x) Administrative and academic leadership pool strong for future growth
y) New facilities and infrastructure on campuses designed for student success
z) Fill in the blank ___________________________

These are just 26 ideas…and we know that higher collaboration will be at the nucleus for even these few advances. “Together, we are an ocean.”

Zealous Commitment to Collaboration

Last year, I conducted a study to better understand select, exemplary higher education associations. In the interviews, I asked a series of questions that elicited discussions about organizational effectiveness, professional expectations, and what constitutes an exemplary association. I listened carefully for repetition and commonality, as well as distinction, among the participants.

In every case, collaboration emerged as the number one key factor. Each participant elaborated on what collaboration meant to them, essentially recognizing how their associations worked to create one, unified voice. Each participant acknowledged the importance of developing a working relationship among members, and both finding and implementing a common agenda. They continually reinforced that their greatest asset was strength in unity.

Further, participants stressed a zealous commitment to collaboration that, consequently, resulted in creating a system-like affiliation of colleges with centralized representation in states that were largely decentralized. In fact, the weak system in these states made the associations stronger. Essentially, the associations served as the mechanism for behaving like a system and, therefore, the colleges rallied around key issues, putting political will and force around their common agenda. By recognizing more can be accomplished working together than alone, the participants upheld the tenet: whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

However, participants noted effective collaboration didn’t come easy. Several participants commented parochialism of presidents always threatened the effectiveness of the association, quoting the famous line from Lincoln, “a house divided cannot stand.” The participants handled the tension in various ways. Sometimes they pressed board leadership to handle internal disputes. A couple of participants intentionally stayed away from divisive areas that could exasperate existing tensions between colleges.

Overall, participants put the required effort into sustaining the wisdom of working together, knowing it often created wonderful results. One participant viewed the effort as collaborative autonomy, noting that autonomy alone is not enough and the colleges needed to coordinate and collaborate around autonomy to make great things happen, regardless of the intensity of the issues or personalities.

Collaboration Origin

Always good to know the origin of a word. The first usage of the word “collaborate” appears to be in 1871. Now, 144 years later, it is beginning to take on greater usage and significance as we search for a process and/or strategy for finding solutions to our contemporary challenges and opportunities. Collaboration is the most creative, viable answer, as well as the most abundant renewable resource we have on our planet that will lead us to an improved future.


Collaborative Magic

The Global Impact STEM Academy, Springfield City Schools, and Yellow Springs Schools worked together to develop waiver applications from state mandated testing in Ohio. The intention of the waiver is to use alternative assessments that are compatible with the educational programs of the applicants, while still maintaining a consistent level of rigor and accountability. While very different public schools in size and scope, these school leaders clearly indicated that the strength of their applications came from the opportunity to collaborate, as they wrestled with alternative pathways. In the spirit of collaboration, superintendent of the Springfield City, Dr. David Estrop, and superintendent of Yellow Springs Schools, Mr. Mario Basora, held a joint press conference and performed a little collaborative magic. They pulled a bunny out of a hat that held the waivers along with a promise to help state and federal bureaucrats understand and accept this innovative approach to assessment that reduces state required testing by 50-70%.

Estrop and Basora Waiver Press Conference 02.27.15 B