Examples of collaborative partnerships

Distributed Learning in Teacher Education
The DLiTE program is a blended-technologies (online and face-to-face), six-semester teacher licensure program that facilitates student transfer and culminates in a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. The partnership of 16 community and technical colleges and Bemidji State University provides seamless transfer for students and deeply engages students in their local public schools. Ninety-eight percent of DLiTE students passed their licensure tests on their first try and 87 percent of the candidates found a job in education.

HealthForce Minnesota
HealthForce Minnesota is a partnership of higher education, health providers and the community that facilitates the creation of innovative health care programs aligned with the need for healthcare professionals. HealthForce Minnesota has been instrumental in working with their partner institutions to develop new programs in health, to support the national and subject accreditation of programs, and to promote efficiencies in clinical placements of students. The partners include Winona State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato and nine community and technical colleges.

The Campus Service Cooperative:
“One team, many campuses”
The Campus Service Cooperative brings together administrative teams from all of our colleges, universities and the system office to develop common business practices that improve performance and reduce costs. Under the leadership of eight college and university presidents, the CSC is driving two sets of initiatives: 1) Shared Services – moving business office, human resources and financial aid processing onto a common shared platform, and 2) Strategic Sourcing – leveraging the size of the system to negotiate with suppliers for substantially better prices for the goods and services our colleges and universities purchase annually. The savings are being reinvested in our colleges and universities to improve academic programs and hold down the cost of tuition.

E-LECT: E-learning for Early Childhood Teachers
Child development faculty from 15 colleges have jointly created an innovative approach to curriculum that improves course quality, facilitates credit transfer, and gives students access to shared online learning. Child development faculty work together to create online courses, coordinate course scheduling and jointly market the program. Students enroll at their home campuses, but can draw on courses across all the partnering colleges.

Health Sciences Articulation Agreement
The Broad Field Health Science associate degree program provides students enrolled at 13 participating colleges access to a broad range of general education courses that prepare them to transfer to baccalaureate health science programs. This associate’s degree program fulfills health science baccalaureate requirements at all of our state universities through a statewide articulation agreement.

360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering
ATE Regional Center of Excellence, a consortium of 10 colleges and Bemidji State University, creates opportunities for students and incumbent workers to advance their education online through the eTECH program. Faculty members have jointly developed offerings in the fields of production technologies, automation technologies and machine technologies. 360° Manufacturing has also designed mechanisms for students to demonstrate their prior learning to accelerate degree completion.

Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence
Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence, a consortium of Minnesota State University, Mankato, and 10 two-year colleges, promotes opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering, and math. The collaboration eases transfer for students among colleges and universities and enhances program quality by sharing faculty expertise.

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The power of collaboration

Our system is strong because our colleges and universities are strong, diverse, and distinctive. They plan and act independently, guided by overarching board policy. They reflect their communities and the students they serve. This should – and will – continue.

Now, however, it’s time to recognize that our colleges and universities are interdependent higher education institutions, and that interconnectedness is a strength. Collaboration doesn’t mean giving something up. Rather, it is a way to advance institutional interests and, at the same time, serve students and partners more effectively. It is a way to be more, not less, successful.

The core idea embedded in our recommendations is the need for significantly more collaboration as a way to advance our Strategic Framework and the recommendations articulated in this report. The time has come to plan and act more like a team, regularly bringing together the best thinking across our colleges and universities to solve problems and create opportunities for students and also to increase revenue and reduce costs. This shift in the way we do business is essential to our ability to serve students in a permanent environment of scarce resources, continuous change and increasing expectations. “Business as usual” is no longer an option.

Questions have arisen about whether collaboration means more control in the system office. The answer is “no.” The future cannot lead to more power in the system office. We acknowledge that the system office plays an important role as convener and facilitator, but we do not support more centralization unless it unambiguously adds value. The challenges we face will not be solved by centralization, but rather by collaboration and coordination that takes advantage of the distinct strengths of each college and university. This approach best engages the creativity and expertise of faculty and staff; it fosters efficiency, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

We know collaboration will take many forms – the shapes of cooperation and collaboration are wide ranging. Although some ideas may originate at the system level, most will originate in the colleges and universities. Collaboration could be two institutions – or people – working together; it could be twenty; it could be all the colleges and universities. It could be a matter of replicating an effective program or best practice across many institutions. It could be faculty members working together to develop an innovative new course or program or delivery system. The possibilities are limited only by our creativity.

It is clear that collaboration can be a powerful tool to help us address the challenges we face. A fragile economy, evolution in technology, the changing needs of learners, and severe limits on public funding will continue to hamper our success if we let them. If we think of these challenges as opportunities and seize the potential to transform our culture, students and communities across Minnesota will benefit.

Collaboration is not a new idea, and it is clear that when our colleges and universities work together we see amazing results. On the following page are examples of collaboration that are contributing to student success and Minnesota’s prosperity. A list of participating colleges and universities for the examples of collaborative partnerships provided can be found in Appendix 3 of the Charting the Future for a Prosperous Minnesota report (PDF).