4 midstate colleges join consortium to cut costs, improve efficiency

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 28, 2014 2:00 PM

(Lancaster) -- Four midstate liberal arts colleges are joining with 6 other schools from the eastern part of the state in a new consortium, called the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts. The idea is to cut costs and limit tuition increases, through efficiency and collaboration. 

The Presidents of the Colleges involved have already informally met a handful of times, as a search for an Executive Director to lead the consortium gets underway.

Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster, Carlisle's Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, and Juniata College in Huntingdon County are all a part of the group.

Dan Porterfield, President of Franklin and Marshall, says they've learned lessons from other arrangements, like the New York 6 or the 5 colleges of Western Massachusetts.

"The most important thing is to gather people regularly for serious conversation, to allow everyone to express their ideas on how to develop a project that might enhance several colleges at one time."

Porterfield says each school will always be able to decide for itself whether a certain project is something it wants to be a part of.

"If the Presidents take leadership and model that kind of commitment, that will undoubtedly then encourage our colleagues to work with one another."

He acknowledges education can be very political, but Presidents can establish a tone on campus.

He says Franklin and Marshall is particularly interested in cost savings through shared purchasing, while other participants are talking about combining classes on different campuses, or joint training opportunities.

"We certainly should be able to develop opportunities for greater efficiency, which then has the advantage of helping us control increasing tuition."

The consortium is funded by an $800,000 grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation for three years.

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