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The Carletonian

Mellon Grant Helps St. Olaf, Carleton

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St. Olaf College, though just across the Cannon and up the Hill, will soon seem much closer, thanks to an expanding academic partnership with Carleton.

The colleges received a $1.4 million grant in December 2013 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to “support cross- institutional administrative and academic collaboration.” The funding will also help the schools further integrate their IT departments and improve their shared library system, which was first implemented in 2003.

This year, the colleges began a four-year project known as “Broadening the Bridge” to promote more academic partnership between both faculty and students. Faculty members are encouraged to devise creative ways to foster these connections.

Prof. Greg Marfleet, for example, now teaches a course on political psychology in which half of his students are Oles and half are Carls. Several projects in the class require the students to partner with their crosstown peers.

The next in a series of discussions on the Bridge project will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Gould Library in Room 334. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend.

Nationwide, colleges are starting to collaborate with neighboring schools to reduce expenditures and streamline their administrative structures. The largest example, the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges, boasts 23 member schools, including Northland and Marquette. The consortium saves $9 million annually as a result of pooling organizational resources like staff and office supplies.

“There’s definitely a sense that in higher ed, there’s often some kind of redundancy,” said Associ- ate Dean of the College George Shuffelton. “But with another great liberal arts college across the river, a lot of that overlap can potentially be reduced.”

The Bridge project naturally has its hindrances. To begin with, Carleton and St. Olaf’s differing academic calendars make signing up for classes at the other college cumbersome, a problem further compounded by transportation.

“Each college has its own distinct history, traditions and student body, which itself can be challenging,” Shuffelton added. He helps coordinate interscho- lastic academic programs, and despite setbacks is hopeful about the project’s lasting impacts.

“Over time, it might be possible to ingrain in our minds a way of thinking – to make it a habit of asking ‘What is St. Olaf doing?’” Shuffelton said.

The partnership between schools is not limited to faculty and staff, however. Several Carls visiting St. Olaf last week discussed the prospects of establishing interscholastic activism events. A Carleton-St. Olaf dance, suggested by the CSA, might also be in the works.

“While Carleton and St. Olaf will still each nourish its distinct culture and mission,” St. Olaf President David Anderson ’74 said last winter, the grant will “enable us to leverage what we have in common to better fulfill our respective missions and serve our students.”

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