The Committee on Institutional Cooperation continues to promote interuniversity partnerships that lead to better collaboration and lower individual institutional costs.
The CIC is a partnership that encompasses the Big Ten’s 14 universities and the University of Chicago.
In the organization’s recently released annual report, Executive Director Barbara McFadden Allen said the CIC is promoting collaboration on a variety of fronts.
“Together, our universities continue to refine what is arguably the most effective means for collaboration in American higher education,” she said.
Allen points out specific areas where a team effort is paying off in direct institution cost savings, including shared upgrades in information technology and synergies developed by university librarians for the collection and storage of digital data.
John Wilkin, the U. of I.’s dean of libraries, said the library effort has led to large-scale ideas that benefit all CIC members.
“The research libraries are working together and seeing opportunities for improved impact and cost savings,” he said. “The CIC is a great lever for these types of collaborations, which can lead to an economy of scale that benefits us all.”
The CIC’s library group currently is working on a shared repository for print materials that have been digitized and are not actively being used.
The goal, Wilkin said, is to collectively digitize some 250,000 print volumes and retire a copy of the print edition to long-term storage.
“You don’t need to store 15 copies,” he said. “So far, we’ve made a lot of progress. Once it’s finished, these volumes will become fully shared (by CIC member universities).”
Wilkin said the libraries also regularly take advantage of digital technology and of shared purchasing powers to make resources stretch further.
He said just converting printed volumes to digital can cost as much as $100 per volume, which adds up quickly when you consider the hundreds of thousands of volumes the libraries possess.
“There’s a lot of commonality in the library systems, so it gives us a lot of throw weight to drive down the costs,” he said.
While funding is an important aspect of the CIC, Allen said it continues to foment partnerships at many levels.
She said a recent partnering between CIC and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest has created the Summer Research Opportunities Program and the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program for a Diverse Professorate, supported by an $8.1 million Mellon Foundation Grant.
“This unique endeavor gathers institutions from two sections on an unusual scale, allowing the consortia to launch a program that encourages students of underrepresented backgrounds to participate in graduate school preparation and to consider careers teaching at liberal arts colleges,” she said.
The CIC also is working with the U.S. Census Bureau on methods for providing in-depth statistics on the impact of research on regional economic activity.