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Jeremy Webster

2018-2019 SCUP Fellow and Dean, Ohio University Zanesville
Ohio University-Zanesville Campus
SCUP Coaches: Linda L. Baer, Senior Consultant Linda L. Baer Consultant David N. Cox, Professor University of Memphis

Project Title: Collaborative Planning as a Means toward Collaborative Innovation on a Co-Located Campus Project

In May 2016, Ohio’s General Assembly passed Substitute House Bill 391, which created the Task Force for Creating Opportunities for Shared Governance on Co-Located Campuses. As its title suggests, this task force was charged with creating a model of shared governance for Ohio’s seven co-located campuses, ones in which a community college and a regional branch of a four-year university are located on the same or adjoining campuses:

  • Belmont College and Ohio University-East
  • Central Ohio Technical College and OSU-Newark
  • North Central State College and OSU-Mansfield
  • Marion Technical College and OSU-Marion
  • Rhodes State College and OSU-Lima
  • Stark State College and Kent State-Stark
  • Zane State College and Ohio University-Zanesville

The task force ultimately called for co-located institutions to explore “shared administration, student services, maintenance, facility usage, and other shared governance to better serve the students” while preserving the individual academic missions of the community college and the university’s regional branch (Recommendations of the Task Force for Creating Opportunities for Shared Governance on Co-Located Campuses, p. 5).

When I became campus dean of Ohio University’s Zanesville (OUZ) campus in June 2017, I assumed responsibility for enacting this task force’s recommendations at my campus in collaboration with the President of Zane State College (ZSC), Dr. Chad Brown. OUZ and ZSC previously adopted a memorandum of understanding concerning a range of shared services and cost sharing, including a bookstore, our library, maintenance, facilities, utilities, security, and counseling services. We have a strong culture of cooperation and coexistence, and Dr. Brown and I have quickly proven the accuracy of the report’s assertion that “Collaboration, effectiveness and efficiency is deeply influenced by the relationships with presidents and deans who lead co-located institutions” (8).

Yet, in my relative brief time as campus dean I already see that fully realizing the task force’s recommendations for shared services, campus master planning, and extensive collaboration is made more complex by the fact that, although our institutions’ missions differ, they nevertheless also potentially compete especially as state resources, graduating high school students, and adult learners interested in returning to college decline. President Brown, his provost, and I have begun a conversation about potentially extending our collaborations to the academic side of our institutions through academic programs and perhaps even faculty, which has raised the question of how to achieve collaboration when the stakeholders affected by our decisions might have much more divergent, and perhaps even hostile, views of such an expansion.

My project therefore focuses on whether co-located institutions specifically, and competing institutions of higher education more generally, could use “collaborative planning,” a conceptual framework from urban planning that emphasizes “Partnership, stakeholder involvement, collaboration and consensus-oriented decision-making” as core principles of planning (Vandenbussche, Edelenbos, and Eshuis, “Pathways of Stakeholders’ Relations and Frames in Collaborative Planning Processes,” Planning Theory 16 (3): 234), as an effective tool for transcending competition, negotiating disagreements, and achieving increased institutional collaboration and innovation.