North Central College on Nov. 7-8 hosted 40 faculty members from New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) schools at an Innovation Summit to share ideas about how the institutions could collaborate.
The three-day summit brought together professors from various disciplines to brainstorm and recommend to the NAC&U board ways in which the 21 member schools could help each other through collaboration. NAC&U is a national consortium of selective, small to mid-size independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies and civic engagement.
“Our consortium of 21 colleges and universities from coast to coast has the potential to give students access to the entire country,” said Nancy Hensel, NAC&U president. “Their educations will become more relevant when they’re able to think about where their opportunities could lead them.”
Though the participants’ recommendations won’t be disclosed until after the NAC&U board has a chance to consider them, discussions during brainstorming sessions about potential collaboration included such ideas as pooling resources for distance learning, opening enrollment for study abroad courses to students from other institutions and integrating career services to expand employment opportunities for graduates.
The Innovation Summit was led by California-based education consultant Robin Heyden, who guided the group’s discussion with examples and stories about how innovative ideas are adopted into practices.
“Often we see the use of a new technology is trapped by the old way of doing things,” Heyden told the group. “It takes imagination and nontraditional thinking to get out of that trap.”
NAC&U sponsors projects and conferences, administrator and faculty affinity groups, surveys and data benchmarking and international study programs. Delegates were welcomed to Naperville Nov. 6 by North Central College President Troy D. Hammond.
“In higher education, more than ever before, we need to stay ahead of the game in being innovative—with our academic programs, our recruiting, our finances, our services to students (and) our application of technologies,” Hammond said.
North Central College was among NAC&U’s founding members when the consortium was established in 1995.