ERIC Identifier: ED427818
Publication Date: 1999-02-00
Author: Kuo, Elaine W.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Community Colleges Los Angeles CA.
Creating Beneficial Institutional Collaborations. ERIC Digest.
The process of collaboration with external organizations can transform an
institution. The term collaboration refers to the act of working with a limited
group in a socially beneficial effort. This Digest examines the value of
existing collaborative efforts with businesses, community organizations and
other educational institutions, and explores how collaborative partnerships
create new opportunities as well as challenges.
Collaborative efforts assist community colleges in
realizing their mission of promoting access and servicing their local
constituents (McGrath). By connecting sections of the educational pipeline,
community colleges bridge secondary education and baccalaureate programs (Wright
and Middleberg; Lieberman). These cross-sector collaborations address issues on
a vertical as well as horizontal level. Community colleges are also often
involved in partnerships with local industries and community organizations to
promote economic development.
COLLABORATIONS WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES
Garza and Eller
demonstrate that a collaborative approach promotes community development by
highlighting the interconnections between education, social services, and
economic development. They refer to the work of the Rural Community College
Initiative (RCCI), which fosters community partnerships to address educational
and employment barriers (Garza and Eller). Their strategies include developing
partnerships with industries, increasing the availability of distance education,
and fostering the growth of small businesses. The RCCI has grown to twenty-four
institutions located across the nation in economically distressed areas.
The increase in student services and the promotion of entrepreneurship
through business development centers contribute to community renewal by
invigorating community leadership and establishing connection between the
institution and its neighbors.
COLLABORATIONS WITH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
Corridor of Success Initiative (NY) links education and community development
through collaboration among at-risk youth, the Bronx Community College (BCC),
and various community organizations (Gillespie). The Bronx Corridor of Success
not only increases information sharing and learning across different levels of
the educational system, but also enhances BCC's ability to serve student needs
by offering access to health care and workshops that increase parental
participation (Gillespie). In the Academic Bridge Program, where eighth graders
work two days a week with local high school writing teachers after school, a
busing system was established so students could return home safely. This
arrangement addresses parents' concern for the safety of their children.
Likewise, the program acknowledges the connection between physical health and
educational success by providing the participants in the Bronx Corridor of
Success with dental care and immunizations.
As the senior director of collaborative programs at Bronx Community College,
Gillespie maintains that once the vision, communication channels, and trust
levels are established, then the collaborative effort can become
self-sustaining. However, he acknowledges the need for continuous dialogue among
all collaborative participants in order to maintain a clear sense of focus.
Therefore, leaders need to be knowledgeable about the collaborative goals, and
be patient, open, and flexible during the partnership process.
COLLABORATIONS WITH EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
At New York
University (NYU), concern for low transfer rates led to collaboration between
the School of Education and eleven area community colleges (Wright and
Middleberg). Prior to 1989, only fifteen to twenty community college students
transferred each year to the School of Education. NYU expanded the existing
articulation agreements, formed collegial relationships with community colleges
and asked their faculty and counselors to nominate potential transfer students.
NYU recognized the importance of a diverse and strong student body, but it could
not achieve this goal without the cooperation of the community colleges.
One community college president, Carolyn Grubbs Williams, found that
collaborations can prove to be an asset in addressing community educational
concerns. She explains that the student-centered model relies on partnerships to
encourage student progress throughout the K-16 pipeline. By combining the
support of her office with increased participation in inter-institutional
collaborative programs, Williams brought people together, developed their ideas
on education, and disseminated their shared thoughts on effective learning
strategies. Thus, as she demonstrated, effective leaders need to establish and
maintain a shared vision while developing and reinforcing trust levels among the
participants. This involves the ability to identify and convey the connections
between educational, employment, and community concerns facing an institution's
Organizational change often results
from collaborative efforts. A successful way to integrate this change is to
build support for collaboration starting at the top (Wright and Middleberg).
Support from the leaders of the various institutional partners can provide the
impetus needed to begin and sustain collaborations. An enthusiastic president
can create a climate where his/her staff can see the mutual benefits resulting
from collaborations within and outside the campus (Williams). Lundquist and
Nixon suggest that such collaborative efforts ultimately place a spotlight on
student development through the formation of community partnerships, and the
development of new forms of planning and resource allocation. The Summer
Scholars Transfer Institute (SSTI), a collaboration between Santa Ana College
and the University of California, Irvine, prepares students for higher education
by adopting a learner-centered focus (Lundquist and Nixon). Coalitions among
faculty, counselors, and administrators led to shifts in the organizational
structure as well as the development of a new organizational culture.
Compartmentalization of student services and academic affairs ended as
participants reexamined the purpose of resource and program development and
shifted to a learner-centered focus. This effort established a culture that
promoted collective responsibility for access and equity.
Assessment projects must be approached
thoughtfully because they are complex endeavors (Rendon, Gans, and Calleroz).
Sometimes, participants are concerned about interpretations made by an outside
group such as a funding agency. Attention must be given not only to the unique
design of each program but also the methods used in collecting and examining the
The assessment process used to examine the Ford Foundation's Urban
Partnership Program included both quantitative and qualitative components.
Rendon, Gans, and Calleroz examined the level of systemic change that occurred
and how it affected student outcomes. Their assessment also served to inform
others of the factors that contribute to the success or failure of collaborative
efforts. They note that assessment is most useful when seen as an informative,
rather than judgmental, tool. The assessment staff also needs to involve local
evaluation experts and members of the collaborative effort. As in any
collaboration, ideas need to be continuously exchanged and reviewed. In the end,
assessment needs to be integrated and established as a permanent part of the
partnership. An assessment of any collaborative project can further inspire
participants' commitment. Successful student outcomes make the benefits of these
efforts tangible. Williams notes that the on-going assessment of the Los Angeles
Partners Advocating Student Success helps the group maintain their credibility
and reminds the collaborative partners of the organization's goal to increase
the educational prospects of students in the Los Angeles Unified School
This Digest refers to collaborative models that
illustrate the utility of these partnerships for institutions that strive to
better serve their students. Movement toward collaboration must be strategic and
continuous. The goals of increasing access and enhancing community economic
development to higher education continue to be the impetus that sustains
relationships between community colleges and external organizations.
This Digest is drawn from "Creating and
Benefiting from Institutional Collaboration: Models for Success." New Directions
for Community Colleges, Number 103, Dennis McGrath, Ed., Jossey-Bass: San
Francisco, CA, Fall 1998:
Garza, H. & Eller, R.D. The role of community colleges in expanding
access and economic development. (pp. 31-42).
Gillespie, M.C. An urban intervention that works: The Bronx Corridor of
Success. (pp. 21-30).
Lieberman, J.E. Creating structural change: Best practices. (pp. 13-20).
Lundquist, S. & Nixon, J.S. The partnership paradigm: Collaboration and
the community college. (pp. 43-50).
Rendon, L.I., Gans, W.L., & Calleroz, M.D. No pain, no gain: The learning
curve in assessing collaboratives. (pp. 71-84).
Williams, C.G. The collaborative leader. (pp. 51-56).
Wright, L.V. & Middleberg, R. Lessons from a long-term collaboration.