Otterbein, Antioch University announce partnership

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Otterbein and Antioch Universities are combining forces—however not merging—creating an affiliation that goals to construct a nationwide college system centered on graduate education and grownup learners.

Mergers and acquisitions throughout greater education have made nationwide headlines lately as faculties make such strikes to stay afloat. However the affiliation, introduced immediately, between Otterbein College and Antioch College presents a unique method, yet another akin to a enterprise alliance.

The 2 universities hope to formally launch shared packages by fall 2023. However they don’t plan to cease there, as leaders for the 2 establishments inform Inside Greater Ed that they intend to carry extra faculties underneath the affiliation umbrella to make the yet-to-be-named system really nationwide.

The Plan

Particulars rising on the trouble at Otterbein and Antioch—which is unbiased of the better-known Antioch School—are basically a tough sketch. Officers observe they’ll want approval from their present accreditors, which they anticipate will take a few 12 months. As they wait, leaders intend to sharpen their marketing strategy and develop early packages. Although they’ve recognized areas for collaboration, particular packages haven’t been introduced.

The main focus will probably be on graduate education, diploma completion and workforce growth.

Although concepts for the partnership are nonetheless taking form, leaders envision a system the place every school maintains its personal distinctive id, governing board and accreditation whereas being a part of a nationwide system that may provide collaborative packages, shared companies and different benefits. Otterbein and different faculties becoming a member of the system which have undergraduates will maintain their athletics packages separate.

Antioch president William Groves famous that a lot of faculties have approached the college—which has a number of campuses throughout the U.S. and on-line choices—lately about an affiliation. And whereas none of these partnerships have been workable, it bought the ball rolling on the thought, so Antioch introduced in a advisor and developed an inventory of potential companions.

Out of round 60 establishments that have been thought-about, Groves mentioned, Otterbein rose to the highest.

“Our purpose was to grasp the change within the greater education panorama and the consolidation within the market. We wished to be firstly of this cycle, not on the finish of it,” he mentioned. “We wished to decide on a accomplice that was proper for Antioch, one which was centered on the same mission and value-based education that Antioch is concentrated on and has been since its inception. Mission was essential, monetary viability was essential and complementary packages have been essential.”

With the primary campuses for each faculties positioned in Ohio, the partnership is sensible geographically. However extra importantly, Groves mentioned it is sensible from a mission standpoint.

John Comerford, president of Otterbein College, famous that calls to develop partnerships started coming throughout the pandemic. Market challenges, akin to a shrinking pool of conventional undergraduate college students, additionally factored into Otterbein’s resolution to accomplice with Antioch to increase its choices.

“Once we’re primarily reliant on 18- to 22-year-old conventional undergraduates, we perceive the challenges of that market. How do you suppose in new methods about means to serve new college students?” Comerford mentioned.

Becoming a member of forces with Antioch presents a right away growth to a brand new market of scholars. Whereas Otterbein already presents restricted graduate choices, this can enable the college to develop extra.

“It’s a technique to preserve, at the very least from Otterbein’s seat, the distinctiveness of our conventional undergraduate program, which isn’t nicely arrange structurally for achievement within the grownup house,” Comerford mentioned. “However Antioch is, so we will have the very best of each worlds in a mannequin like this.”

And whereas Otterbein and Antioch are looking for further companions to affix the nationwide system they envision, Comerford mentioned they’ll be choosy. They’re looking for a mission match in addition to monetary viability, and potential companions shouldn’t view membership as a Hail Mary for failing faculties.

“I’d simply say that you need to do that from a place of energy,” Comerford mentioned. “This isn’t the best way to save lots of a college that’s on dying’s door. That’s not what that is about.”

The still-developing plan bears some similarities to different greater education partnerships. For instance, the three-member National University System brings collectively Nationwide College, Metropolis College of Seattle and Northcentral College underneath one umbrella. Equally, the TCS Education System, which has 5 school companions, is one other comparative mannequin.

Greater Ed Affiliations

David King, a administration professor at Florida State College who research mergers and acquisitions, mentioned affiliations throughout greater education have been trending up lately. Although such affiliations aren’t unusual, he notes they’re seen extra within the enterprise world.

Affiliations provide sure benefits, akin to collectively managing and advertising and marketing packages.

“That may then scale back prices. It’s a method of basically growing the revenues that each would see, and hopefully, they’ll be capable of entice extra folks to it,” King mentioned. “Then it lowers their prices, as a result of they’ve much less services, instructors, workers and different issues.”

Some educational packages are ripe for affiliation, akin to these which might be costly to supply. King factors to FSU’s joint engineering program with Florida A&M College as one such instance.

However King notes that there could be challenges along with advantages.

“The issue is that you just now not have as a lot management over your model. You’re providing programs which might be going to be taught by somebody you didn’t rent, and the standard of what basically is delivered is simply partially underneath your management—and that’s usually the place alliances fail,” King mentioned.

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