Five College Plan Aims To Increase Cooperation
By Brianda Reyes ’14, Contributing Writer
After over a year of meetings and proposals by different parties, the Five College Board of Directors has drafted a 10-year strategic plan for the Five College Consortium and are encouraging input until October.

The Board of Directors includes the presidents of each of the Five Colleges, the chancellor of the UMass Amherst campus and the Executive Director of the Consortium, Neal Abraham.

Their plan includes proposals that would expand intellectual communities among the colleges, create five-year bachelor’s and master’s degrees programs, allow for easier and more efficient access to all the libraries in the consortium, improve bus schedules to match cross-registration and improve administration objectives.

“Optimizing the Consortial Advantage by 2020, once finalized, will set the direction for the next decade for one of the oldest and most extensive academic consortia in the country,” said Kevin Kennedy, communication director of Five Colleges, Inc.

The Five Colleges consortium already benefits from the relationship between the colleges , according to Abraham. Some current benefits include curricular opportunities found in the Five College Departments, certain exclusive majors, certificate and graduate programs and access to a vast number of academic programs and library resources.

“The aim of the planning process has been to think beyond the structures and needs of the present to design a consortium that will best meet the needs of the students and faculty members who will join us in years to come,” said Abraham.

In an effort to facilitate student cross-registrations, the plan seeks to improve bus transportation and class scheduling. The Consortium works closely with PVTA to provide free transportation to its student body.

“We will be looking at options for providing more express bus service among the colleges and at possibilities of matching the scheduling of courses particularly desired for cross-registration with the times when there is express transportation,” said Abraham.

The Board of Directors created the plan using input they received from student groups, faculty members, Trustee representatives and participants of a day-long retreat. The Five College community was also encouraged to submit comments using an online form. The Board received 400 comments which they reviewed nd considered in creating the draft. The community can continue to submit comments and suggestions through the Five Colleges, Inc. website until October.

The Board of Directors sees the new strategic plan as necessary because it has been 10 years since the last review of the consortium. A new director also joined the Board in the summer of 2009; the creation of a new plan is seen as a good way to guide his leadership. The problems raised by the current economic situation also call for a new plan that would help the consortium work together more efficiently.

“As higher education’s business model — rising tuition, growing need for financial aid, reliance on less certain public financing, investment earnings and philanthropy — comes under increasing pressure, the advantages of collaboration are ever more apparent,” said College president Tony Marx.

The Board of Directors will continue to review and consider the comments and suggestions submitted on their website until October. After adjustments are made, a final draft will be created. The plan could be made official by the end of the fall semester or the beginning of the spring semester, depending on the adjustments.

“Five Colleges, Inc. has a leadership role to play in demonstrating a model for higher education that is both pedagogically and financially sustainable, and a thoughtful strategic plan is central to reaching that goal,” said Marx.

Issue 04, Submitted 2010-09-29 03:03:30