Driving consortial change–it takes more than missionaries

For a time, these programs can – and do – work. That is, until the missionaries retire, die, or move on to the next mission field.

Consortial initiatives ultimately fail, because they do not deal systemically with supporting programming, in order to insure sustainable success.

There are clear models of where consolidation, collaboration, and aggregation do work in higher education. They are called state systems and community college systems, and they have well-proven models of multi-site governance, oversight and accountability.

Selective, residential colleges can’t seemingly make this quantum leap to pool their resources in this fashion. Tradition, trustees, pride, alumni, and just, well, plain ‘ol stubbornness won’t allow it to happen.

Unless and until there is no other way to survive.

Without introducing sweeping governance changes, honest accountability, and real incentives to promote consortial activities systematically, the idea that consortial collaboration will ever drive sustainable programming and revenue (or, dare to dream, tuition savings) is a mission field too far.

David J. Hinson is former EVP & CIO at Hendrix College. This post first appeared in David Hinson’s blog, Logorrhea.