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Jul 03, 2014 04:51 PM EDT

Pennsylvania Liberal Arts Colleges To Collaborate With Mellon Money

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given ten liberal Arts colleges in Pennsylvania an $800,000 grant to create the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The consortium was created to help each institution involved create new cost efficiencies, improve the quality of academic and co-curricular programs, and enhance inter-institutional knowledge and collaboration. It also plans to contribute to national discussions about improving access to higher education and improving affordability for families.

"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 statement. "Bringing Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges into a consortium helps us leverage our collective strengths to better serve our students."

The grant will be expended over the years to provide seed money for collaborative programs among the various participants. The member colleges, each with its individual assets, will contribute and benefit in ways distinct to their institutional strengths and needs. In pursuing the Mellon grant, the leaders of the institutions asserted that their first priority as a consortium "is to enhance the strong liberal arts preparation we provide our students while controlling associated costs."

The 10 liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania involved are: Bryn Mawr College, in Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pa.; Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pa.; Gettysburg College, in Gettysburg, Pa.; Haverford College, in Haverford, Pa.; Juniata College, in Huntingdon, Pa.; Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pa.; Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pa.; Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pa.; and Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.

The colleges will explore and develop collaborative programs in seven core areas: academic program improvement; faculty development; study abroad; library resources; administrative services; compliance and risk management; and enhancing the institutional climate for diversity.

"Pennsylvania enjoys an extraordinary concentration of the nation's finest private liberal arts colleges, and working together we can all be stronger and more effective and efficient in our missions," Randy Helm, president of Muhlenberg College, said in a statement. "This consortium will serve as the foundation for new, collective institutional efforts to tackle some of the pressing issues facing higher education."

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