Otterbein, Antioch University announce partnership

Cortez Deacetis

Otterbein and Antioch Universities are combining forces—but not merging—creating an affiliation that aims to make a countrywide university program centered on graduate training and adult learners.

Mergers and acquisitions throughout greater education have created nationwide headlines in recent years as faculties make these types of moves to remain afloat. But the affiliation, declared these days, between Otterbein University and Antioch College offers a distinctive method, just one more similar to a business alliance.

The two universities hope to officially start shared applications by slide 2023. But they really don’t system to end there, as leaders for the two establishments tell Inside of Higher Ed that they intend to carry more faculties less than the affiliation umbrella to make the nonetheless-to-be-named procedure definitely national.

The System

Aspects rising on the effort at Otterbein and Antioch—which is impartial of the greater-known Antioch College—are primarily a rough sketch. Officers observe they will need acceptance from their latest accreditors, which they anticipate will choose about a year. As they wait, leaders intend to sharpen their business plan and acquire early plans. Although they’ve identified spots for collaboration, specific courses haven’t been declared.

The target will be on graduate education and learning, diploma completion and workforce advancement.

Although ideas for the partnership are nonetheless using condition, leaders imagine a procedure wherever every single higher education maintains its possess special id, governing board and accreditation even though becoming component of a national program that can provide collaborative plans, shared services and other pros. Otterbein and other faculties signing up for the system that have undergraduates will preserve their athletics programs separate.

Antioch president William Groves noted that a number of faculties have approached the university—which has multiple campuses throughout the U.S. and on-line offerings—in modern several years about an affiliation. And even though none of individuals partnerships were workable, it got the ball rolling on the concept, so Antioch introduced in a guide and formulated a listing of prospective partners.

Out of close to 60 establishments that were being regarded, Groves mentioned, Otterbein rose to the top.

“Our goal was to understand the change in the bigger schooling landscape and the consolidation in the market. We needed to be at the commencing of this cycle, not at the close of it,” he mentioned. “We needed to pick a lover that was correct for Antioch, a single that was focused on a very similar mission and value-centered instruction that Antioch is focused on and has been since its inception. Mission was significant, monetary viability was vital and complementary plans were being crucial.”

With the main campuses for both equally schools located in Ohio, the partnership would make feeling geographically. But a lot more importantly, Groves reported it will make sense from a mission standpoint.

John Comerford, president of Otterbein University, noted that calls to build partnerships commenced coming throughout the pandemic. Current market troubles, such as a shrinking pool of common undergraduate learners, also factored into Otterbein’s decision to spouse with Antioch to increase its offerings.

“When we’re largely reliant on 18- to 22-calendar year-previous traditional undergraduates, we fully grasp the issues of that market place. How do you imagine in new approaches about capability to serve new pupils?” Comerford explained.

Signing up for forces with Antioch gives an fast expansion to a new market place of pupils. When Otterbein now provides restricted graduate solutions, this will enable the university to build extra.

“It’s a way to keep, at the very least from Otterbein’s seat, the distinctiveness of our standard undergraduate program, which is not effectively established up structurally for achievements in the adult space,” Comerford mentioned. “But Antioch is, so we can have the best of both equally worlds in a model like this.”

And while Otterbein and Antioch are seeking additional partners to join the nationwide procedure they visualize, Comerford stated they’ll be picky. They are searching for a mission suit as properly as monetary viability, and prospective associates should not look at membership as a Hail Mary for failing faculties.

“I would just say that you have to do this from a placement of toughness,” Comerford said. “This is not the way to conserve a faculty that’s on death’s doorway. Which is not what this is about.”

The nevertheless-creating strategy bears some similarities to other increased education and learning partnerships. For illustration, the a few-member Nationwide College Technique provides together Countrywide College, City College of Seattle and Northcentral College beneath just one umbrella. Similarly, the TCS Training Program, which has five university associates, is yet another comparative model.

Greater Ed Affiliations

David King, a management professor at Florida Condition University who reports mergers and acquisitions, explained affiliations across larger schooling have been trending up in current many years. Even though this kind of affiliations aren’t unusual, he notes they are viewed additional in the business world.

Affiliations give specified pros, this sort of as jointly controlling and marketing programs.

“That can then minimize expenses. It is a way of essentially raising the revenues that both would see, and hopefully, they’ll be ready to appeal to more individuals to it,” King mentioned. “Then it lowers their expenditures, due to the fact they have much less services, instructors, workers and other items.”

Some educational systems are ripe for affiliation, this sort of as all those that are high-priced to provide. King details to FSU’s joint engineering application with Florida A&M College as a single these case in point.

But King notes that there can be difficulties in addition to rewards.

“The problem is that you no longer have as a lot manage above your brand name. You are providing programs that are likely to be taught by anyone you didn’t employ, and the top quality of what essentially is delivered is only partly below your control—and that’s normally exactly where alliances fail,” King said.

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