Ursinus College is part of the 10-college Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts (PCLA), which is designed to help the liberal arts college members create new cost efficiencies, improve the quality of academic and co-curricular programs, and enhance inter-institutional knowledge and collaboration.
The initiative was reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other media. Ursinus President Bobby Fong said, “The undergraduate experience at Ursinus and other liberal arts colleges offers to all students strong faculty relationships, opportunities for original research, internships to apply classroom learning, and leadership opportunities on campus and in the community. These experiences lead to greater engagement after graduation, whether in a job, advanced study, or public service. We hope that our consortial efforts and collaborative programming will further strengthen the education we offer our students.”
The group received an $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation The consortium also plans to contribute in important ways to national discussions about improving access to higher education and improving affordability for families.
The 10 Pennsylvania colleges are: Bryn Mawr College, in Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pa.; Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pa.; Gettysburg College, in Gettysburg, Pa.; Haverford College, in Haverford, Pa.; Juniata College, in Huntingdon, Pa.; Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pa.; Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pa.; Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pa.; and Washington & Jefferson College, in Washington, Pa.
The grant, which will be expended over three years, will provide seed money for collaborative programs among the various participants. The member colleges, each with its individual assets, will contribute and benefit in ways distinct to their institutional strengths and needs. In pursuing the Mellon grant, the leaders of the institutions asserted that their first priority as a consortium “is to enhance the strong liberal arts preparation we provide our students while controlling associated costs.”
The 10 consortium members will explore and develop collaborative programs in seven core areas: academic program improvement; faculty development; study abroad; library resources; administrative services; compliance and risk management; and enhancing the institutional climate for diversity. Collaborative initiatives may include:
–Using teleconferencing and online technology to combine under-enrolled courses at member institutions. For example, in the coming academic year Juniata, Gettysburg and Washington & Jefferson will each do the planning to allow them to offer a language course that will be shared across their campuses.
–Training for faculty chairs of academic departments; for example, bringing faculty together with college leaders to better understand and examine financial models, workshops on teaching in a diverse classroom, using technology to enhance learning, and the evolving role of the humanities.
–Shared study abroad sites and programs to reduce costs and expand opportunities for students.
–Shared library resources, including the expertise of subject specialists and consulting services for such issues as disaster planning and digitization.
– Cooperatives in areas such as health plans, branding and licensing, sustainability management, security in information technology, and purchasing.
–Shared expertise and staffing for compliance and risk management.
–Shared training for faculty and administrators on issues of race, gender, class and sexual orientation, as well as joint efforts to build pipelines for diverse faculty recruiting.