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Ten Pa. liberal arts colleges create consortium

By Susan Snyder, The Philadelphia Inquirer
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 02--As pressure to control tuition costs mounts, 10 private liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania are creating a consortium to save money and improve offerings by collaborating on staff training, course offerings, study abroad, library resources and other areas.

The new Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts, which includes Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore and Ursinus colleges locally, will be funded by a three-year, $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The other colleges are: Dickinson in Carlisle, Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Gettysburg, Juniata in Huntingdon, Muhlenberg in Allentown and Washington & Jefferson in Washington.

"Liberal arts colleges across the country face serious challenges -- shifting demographics, student access, affordability and the pressure to keep up with new technology," Tori Haring-Smith, president of Washington & Jefferson College, said in a news release. "Bringing Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges into a consortium helps us leverage our collective strengths to better serve our students."

The colleges will explore seven areas: academic program improvement; faculty development; study abroad; library resources; administrative services; compliance and risk management as well as enhancing diversity.

The colleges may use teleconferencing to offer courses that are under-enrolled at one or more of the schools. Juniata, Gettysburg and Washington & Jefferson are planning to offer a joint language course.

Through the consortium, the colleges also will look at joint purchasing and services, such as improving security in information technology, and share expertise on risk management. They're planning to offer joint training for faculty and administrators on race, gender, class and sexual orientation.

In addition to collaborating, the colleges also through the consortium plan to add their voices to national discussions on improving access and affordability.

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