President and Board Chairs Planning Discussion

The Presidents and Trustee Chairs (or designees) met at the President’s House at Smith College on February 24, 2010.

View a list of participants.

Ideas in Brief

Administrative efficiencies: Take a “shared services” approach to back-office functions, allowing each institution to focus on its primary educational mission. Potential areas: payroll, payables/receivables, technology support, visa services, health services, disability services, fleet management, plant management, project bidding and construction management, chemical safety, hazardous waste. ~ Explore joint investments in alternative energy. ~ Analyze efficiency studies recently undertaken at other comparable universities and corporations.

Shared academic resources: Move toward a fully integrated and coordinated library system. ~ Explore Hampshire’s Mellon grant as a possible model for a joint languages initiative. ~ Explore five-year, college-university masters programs. ~ Share knowledge gained through teaching demonstration projects (esp. technology-intensive) among the five institutions. ~ Encourage faculty to innovate collaboratively. Retain Hampshire’s focus as a place of experimentation.

Information technology: Create incentives to integrate academic and administrative platforms across all institutions, including a joint catalog and on-line registration. ~ Negotiate single licenses for software and library electronic resources for all five colleges. ~ Use technology to provide access to content, allowing faculty-student face-to-face interactions to focus on teamwork and critical thinking.

Transit: Implement technology to foster ride-sharing. ~ Extend car-sharing options like Zipcars. ~ Implement direct/express buses. ~ Engage more fully with regional transit planning efforts, including emerging developments in local/regional rail.

Identity, influence, visibility: Jointly create stronger nexus between our campuses and Springfield and Holyoke, as urban laboratories for community based learning and service in such areas as public education, historic preservation, etc. Position consortium to be a significant player in Holyoke’s high-tech renaissance and Springfield’s educational/cultural development. Consider bold initiatives like establishment of a lab/charter/pilot school. ~ Approach government relations (local, state, federal) from a consortial base, to engage more robustly with key economic development initiatives and opportunities. ~ Consider joint development and marketing of a professional school or institute, adult learning programs, and academic and cultural summer programs, to increase visibility and revenue. ~ Commission an image analysis to develop a more robust identity and marketing platform for the consortium. Consider new name.

Supporting and advancing collaboration: In words and actions, make collaboration important from the highest levels. Establish compelling incentives for collaborative decision-making and investment. Regularly engage boards in “asking the five college question” in the context of decision-making. Designate a five-college liaison at the board level to ensure boards understand the consortium and maximize its effectiveness. Consider an independent, external five-college board. ~ Learn from what other successful consortia are doing.

President and Board Chairs Planning Discussion Participants

Anthony W. Marx, President, Amherst College
Jide Zeitlin, Chair, Board of Trustees, Amherst College
Ralph J. Hexter, President, Hampshire College
Sigmund Roos, Chair, Board of Trustees, Hampshire College
Joanne V. Creighton, President, Mount Holyoke College
Leslie Anne Miller, Chair, Board of Trustees, Mount Holyoke College
Carol T. Christ, President, Smith College
Cornelia Mendenhall Small, Chair, Board of Trustees, Smith College
James V. Staros, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Henry M. Thomas, III, Trustee, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Neal B. Abraham, Executive Director, Five Colleges, Incorporated