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Hamilton Is Hub of Collaborative Consortium

Mellon Foundation $100K Grant Funds Project

Contact Vige Barrie 315-859-4623
Posted June 30, 2009
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The "New York Six," a group of six liberal arts colleges in Upstate New York, has received a one-year planning grant of $100,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to begin collaborative work with the goals of controlling business costs and learning from each other's experience in areas of student life and staff development. Hamilton is the designated grantee for the project and will serve as a hub for the consortium with fiduciary and reporting responsibilities. The five other institutions include Colgate University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University and Union College.

"Hamilton is pleased to be participating in this exploratory grant, and we look forward to learning more about the viability of a New York Six consortium among our sister institutions in the upstate region," said Joe Urgo, Hamilton's acting president and dean of faculty.

The group will focus on six broad areas of collaboration and cooperation:
  • Harnessing technology to allow for greater collaboration in all areas, with emphasis on shared human resources, high end computing collaboration and advanced computer infrastructure.
  • Acquiring of goods and services, including benchmarking, joint purchasing and risk management.
  • Promoting sustainable institutional environments, including recycling operations and alternative energy supplies.
  • Maximizing student engagement, including wellness programming, alcohol and substance abuse intervention strategies, responses to differential learning styles and collaboration among teaching and learning centers.
  • Shaping workforces, including faculty development, staff development and preparation of future academic leaders.
  • Fostering intercultural literacy, including strategies for ensuring our students are prepared to live in a global and diverse world.
The consortium has hired a project manager, Amy Doonan Cronin, who will be based centrally at Hamilton College and will work in consultation with presidents, chief financial officers, directors of information technology and others on each campus. In the area of information technology, directors at the six schools already have begun working together on potential collaborations. Groups of administrators and staff in student affairs, teaching and learning centers and human resources, as well as academic deans and members of the faculty, will also work together.

Cronin, most recently a public relations and management consultant in Ithaca, N.Y., spent eight years in the Office of the President at the University of Virginia, five as the President's special assistant and chief of staff. In that role, she was closely involved in the university's engagement in two consortia – the Atlantic Coast Conference International Academic Collaborative and Universitas 21, a global network of leading comprehensive universities.

While the New York Six colleges each have distinctive institutional missions and well defined institutional identities, they share common commitments, including commitments to liberal education, intercultural understanding, teaching and scholarship and close working relationships between students and faculty. Thus, member institutions face many similar opportunities and challenges. They all believe in the value of partnership. In fact, they hold the common view that challenges posed to higher education in the early years of the 21st century demand collaborative responses. In particular, they all believe that consortial relationships will 1) help manage costs, 2) help solve problems and 3) add value to the educational experiences of students.

This story appeared in the July issue of eNews.

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