Northfield, Minn--The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Carleton College and St. Olaf College a $1.4 million grant to support increased institutional collaboration.
The award funds a four-year project to advance collaboration in library services, information technology, management operations, and academic programs.
"We are truly excited about this initiative, viewing it as one of the most significant steps we can take to enhance the long-term health and success of both Carleton and St. Olaf and to promote broader collaboration in liberal arts education," St. Olaf President David R. Anderson '74 and Carleton President Steven G. Poskanzer wrote in a letter to the Foundation.
The project—Broadening the Bridge: Leading Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges into a More Collaborative Future—builds on efforts that began in 2012 with a planning grant from the Foundation. A joint planning team identified the most promising opportunities for collaboration between the two institutions.
Carleton and St. Olaf can now implement these plans to strengthen liberal arts learning and teaching in ways that each college could not accomplish individually. The two colleges will also collaborate to reduce current costs or contain cost growth.
“I’m profoundly grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which once again has shown its forward-looking commitment to helping liberal arts colleges flourish,” Poskanzer says. “Foundation support will help both Carleton and St. Olaf be creative in improving undergraduate education and be wise and careful stewards.”
The grant will enable the two libraries, which began their collaboration in 2003 with the creation of a cross-library borrowing system, to develop new collaborative projects and services. The colleges will select a new, more sophisticated library management system and develop a single shared research portal. They will also implement an organizational structure for sharing library staff in new ways.
In addition to expanding the existing collaboration between the libraries, the Foundation grant supports collaboration in two new areas: academic programs and information technology.
The colleges will establish a program of competitively awarded grants to support faculty-led exploration and pilot activities with potential for substantive academic collaborations, both in formal classroom curricula and experiential learning.
“This grant will enable us to unleash faculty creativity to explore common interests and to expand opportunities available to students on both our campuses,” says Carleton Dean of the College Beverly Nagel.
Carleton and St. Olaf will also begin to align elements of the information technology systems at the two colleges. The colleges will work together to address security threats to technology systems and experiment with strategies to share helpdesk services—all moves that can help to contain costs and improve services for faculty, staff, and students.
All of these initiatives will benefit from joint faculty workshops and staff training.
“While Carleton and St. Olaf will still each nourish its distinct culture and mission, this generous support from the Foundation will enable us to leverage what we have in common to better fulfill our respective missions and serve our students,” Anderson says.