SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 28, 2014

Column: For colleges, partnerships strengthen programs

In recent years there has been a loud and continuous outcry for institutions to lower costs associated with higher education — a difficult thing to do, since in every area, costs that colleges incur continue to rise. Health care, utilities, energy, food service — many costs are beyond a college’s control. Other expenditures are vital to the delivery of new or enhanced degree programs. Colleges must offer and support a vast array of technologies, each with its own price tag. In the sciences, cutting-edge lab equipment is essential to prepare students for tomorrow’s careers. For many programs, regulations for accreditation demand smaller class sizes, intense clinical experiences and close faculty involvement. Colleges that maintain and exceed these standards provide a high-quality education to their students, offering them the best chance for success. Institutions that fail to meet these standards should close effected programs.

So how can colleges contain costs while providing students with the programs of today and tomorrow? I believe partnerships and collaborations among institutions and between the academy and the marketplace offer the most promise. Finding and creating synergies — it’s a formula that works.

One example. Today, discoveries in the life sciences affect not only our health and well-being but also our marketplace and careers. Massachusetts has become a national leader in life sciences research and development, and at Endicott, we constructed a new science center to educate students for careers in robotics and other sciences, including biology, biotechnology and bioengineering. We formed a partnership with North Shore InnoVentures, a nonprofit technology incubator that helps early-stage companies increase their probability of success. Three North Shore colleges joined our collaboration — Gordon College, North Shore Community College, and Salem State University — to form the Life Sciences Consortium of the North Shore. Building on our unique strengths, each institution developed a focus, a piece of the puzzle, in the biotechnology field. A primary goal was to eliminate costly duplication, allowing our shared expertise to create the best options for students. For two years, the five organizations worked to define unique curricula, to create ways that would allow students to move easily between institutions, and to identify equipment and renovation needs for specializations at each institution.

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