Taking a leadership role to find a cure to cancer, Vice President Biden is challenging scientists to collaborate. Biden acknowledged that research silos have stunted progress, and that collaboration among researchers and collaborative research specifically will be essential and the key to accelerating cures to cancer. The organization, Stand Up to Cancer, is leading an effort to promote innovation and collaboration, and is an excellent example of collaborative infrastructure being established to find innovative solutions to address a global health challenge.
Often, I am asked if there are other organizations like SOCHE. The answer is, “Yes, in fact, there are many different types of consortia in higher education with unique missions and goals.” Going a step further, there is the Association for Collaborative Leadership, which serves as a consortium of consortia. ACL is “an educational, research and professional organization dedicated to developing leadership capabilities and advancing higher education collaboration.”
I have attended numerous ACL conferences over the years and discovered great value in the networking with other executives, rich content of the presenters, and the valuable research shared. In addition to the annual professional engagements, ACL provides research, resources, and tools to help advance and evaluate effective collaborations. I recommend you see for yourself their research on Deep Academic and Administrative Collaborations, which is a working document and updated regularly.
The future of higher education will be shaped by deep and sustained inter- and intra-institutional partnerships. This ACL resource will serve campuses as a good guide for best and common practices.
Recently, I’ve been obsessing over the idea of SOCHE launching the Center of Excellence in Collaboration, as part of its 50th anniversary. SOCHE already facilitates collaboration every day, week, month, year, and has since 1967. SOCHE already serves as the collaborative infrastructure for higher education in our region. Collaboration is SOCHE’s heart and soul, and why it has received accolades and awards for leading inter-institutional collaboration.
This is all fine and dandy. But it is not enough….
Now is the time to challenge SOCHE and its future by studying the art and science of collaboration to the nth degree. A desired outcome of a rigorous undertaking will be for SOCHE to launch the world-class CoE in Collaboration–providing leadership, best practices, research, support, training, expertise, evaluation, technology, and conditions and culture for inter- and intra-institutional collaboration.
People and organizations accept commonly the importance of collaboration in today’s environment. There are books, articles, blog spots that promote collaboration and collaborative innovation. We’ve understood for centuries the combined effect of creative forces is far more impactful than that of individual attempts. Knowing this, we must take the next step, building upon collaboration’s recognized status as a strategy for success and elevate collaboration to a field of academic study and practice.
SOCHE will (collaboratively) do this!
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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) 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 important but resistant to commodification
q) For-profit higher education sector bankrupt
r) Higher Learning Commission EZ forms available
s) Return on investment of a college degree reaches new peak
t) Public proud of spending more public dollars on higher education
u) Resources abundant for technology upgrades
v) Safety on campuses reaches new peak
w) Campuses can afford the best healthcare for FT and PT employees
x) Administrative and academic leadership pool strong for future
y) New facilities and infrastructure on campuses designed for integrated and multidisciplinary learning
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.”
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.