Strategic partnerships require many kinds of support. The very concept is new to many individuals and institutions, which is why it is useful to establish the importance of such linkages through an institutional partnership plan. As each new partnership is proposed, it should be discussed broadly across relevant units and individuals within your institution. Such partnerships not only require negotiation with the partner, but within your own institution itself. The more there is knowledge and support for the partnership within your institution, the more likely are its chances of success.
The process of building internal support includes the following:
- Identifying an individual who is charged with keeping conversations about the partnership moving forward
- Convening a steering committee of individuals who are particularly interested in the partnership
- Introducing faculty and departments to their counterparts at the partner institution for exploratory discussions (via video conference, on-site research symposia, roundtables at scholarly conferences)
- Arranging visits or conversations by senior campus leadership with their counterparts, focused on articulating broad goals and desired outcomes for the partnership
- Announcing the partnership possibility in various internal communications formats, inviting participation and comment across the institution
- Discussing the partnership with programs whose students might study at the partner or that might receive partner students and engage in curricular or research collaborations with the partner
- When relevant, presenting the partnership to agencies, organizations, and businesses in the local community that might have an interest
- Ensuring that financial, staffing, and other resources needed for the partnership are available
- Working with the grants and development offices to explore possible external sources of funding for the partnership (at least for its initial activities)
- Reviewing the partnership with legal counsel and risk management offices
- Following the established institutional procedures for approving a new partnership
Throughout these internal discussions, it is important to generate collective wisdom concerning such questions as the following:
- What objectives might the partnership pursue in terms of student learning, institutional advancement, faculty research and development, civic engagement?
- Who might be the audience? What will be the impact? Will this benefit more than one department? The institution as a whole?
- How will the projects being proposed fit with student trajectories, such as fulfilling degree requirements, time to graduation, and career preparation and opportunities?
- How does this fit with institutional mission, plans, and goals?
- How does this fit with institution’s existing international programs and activities? Does it build on strengths? Fill in gaps?
- How does the partnership fit with existing curricular, research, and civic engagement strengths of the institution? With faculty interests?
- How does the partnership fit with the institution’s existing linkages overseas, including linkages with alumni, other colleges and universities, NGOs, study abroad venues, internship placements, etc.?
- How will this enhance the positioning of the institution in terms of student recruitment, ranking, its distinctive character, and its efforts to build a strong foundation for participation in an increasingly globalized system of higher education?
- Will this negatively impact other institutional initiatives/programs? What might not get done because of it? Will it spread resources too thin?
- Are there ways to connect with other institutional initiatives so as to enhance both? Are there ways to fold this into existing programs?
- What financial, staff, and faculty resources are needed to put the program into action? Are these available?
- Will the program be sustainable over time? What mechanisms will be needed to sustain it? Link to 20.9 on the word sustainable in this bullet
- Will the program lead to new initiatives over time? Will it become a platform for subsequent developments?
- How should the logistics of travel, e-communications, and program management be handled?
- Are there health, safety, visa, and similar concerns to be managed?
- Does the institution have the expertise and resources to frame partnership activities academically?
- Is the partnership conceived in a way that encourages and learns from international dialogue?
- Has the potential partner been actively involved in developing the partnership? What will be the benefits for all partners? How will possible negative impacts be mitigated?
- How should the program be assessed? What will success look like?
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