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Time to Come Together: Institutional Collaboration

by Christine Stewart

Has someone at your institution ever used the phrase “breaking down silos?” This phrase is often used to encourage cross-disciplinary or cross-departmental collaboration, but what about collaboration among institutions? In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, Jeff Selingo and Martin Kurzweil highlighted how peer collaboration may help institutions prepare for the future. Additionally, Ad Astra has found that the same collaboration methods can be leveraged to support your student success and course scheduling goals. 

Why is cross-institutional collaboration so important? While an argument could be made that this is an ever-present opportunity at two- and four-year institutions, never has there been such a time to lean into best practices from our peers. With our rapidly changing environment, everything is on the table. Sharing best practices - failures AND successes – can help us move from “what do we do” to “how do we execute” at a quicker rate.  

It’s understood that there’s not a one size fits all solution in every situation. This reinforces that we have an increased opportunity to uncover solutions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed by sharing more openly with our peersWe can gain insight from schools that have characteristics that match or complement our own: size, region, common mission, common obstaclesstudent/staff needs, etc.   

As consultants, we are often asked how other schools are handling the scheduling issues they are facing during the global pandemic. What has Ad Astra seen over the past several weeks/months? What are the common concerns, questions, and ideas that we are hearing from our partners? Common themes include: 

  • Maintaining institutional mission/priorities with academic requirements 
  • Budgeting implications that include staff, course offerings, space, and utilities 
  • Transitioning to alternative modalities – comfort level of students and teaching staff 
  • Safely holding face-to-face classes with new restrictions/guidelines for social distancing 
  • Tapping into local resources to help meet the needs of our students 

In the coming weeks, schools will be tasked with developing a plan to answer these questions and executing in a way that not only meets the needs of our new and continuing students but honors the mission of the institutions they serve. Ad Astra would like to create a forum that encourages institutional collaboration - providing access to new and innovative strategies to help students graduate faster. 

This blog is the first in a series from our consultants that are in the field talking with and assisting clients every day. Content will also be included from some of our partner schools sharing best practices on how they are addressing scheduling needs during this unprecedented time.    

We want to hear from you! What would you like to know about your peers preparation for the next academic year?  In what areas and topics would peer collaboration be helpful? How are you collaborating with other institutions? Please share your answers in the comment section below as well as with your consultants so we can tailor this series to be relevant to your current needs. 

Now is the time for us to come together as we navigate these unchartered waters. I encourage you to share freely with your peers and seek out feedback from previously untapped resources. This time apart may be the perfect time to come together across institutions in support of our students. 

~Christine Stewart 
Strategic Solutions Consultant