The John R. Oishei Foundation has awarded St. Bonaventure University and Hilbert College $250,000 to support the two schools' efforts to create a strategic alliance.
"We found the proposal from presidents Carney and Zane to articulate a vision that is exactly what Western New York needs in the realm of higher education: more collaboration, a greater sense of entrepreneurship, and better, more affordable opportunities for students," said Oishei Foundation President Robert Gioia.
The John R. Oishei Foundation strives to be a catalyst for change to enhance economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network building. John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp, established the foundation in 1940.
The two Franciscan schools, located 60 miles from each other in Western New York, announced in early October they were embarking upon a feasibility study to determine whether there are significant opportunities to build upon their 20‐year partnership. St. Bonaventure has offered graduate programs on the campus of Hilbert College in a weekend format for the past two decades.
St. Bonaventure president Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., said the grant would enable the schools to make progress in their analysis of the strategic alliance alternatives. "Through the generosity of the Oishei Foundation, we now have the resources necessary to hire a project coordinator with experience in this kind of a process. It will keep us on track and position us for the best possible outcomes."
Hilbert College president Dr. Cynthia Zane said the hard work is before them. "We've spent the past few months sharing documentation and information with each other to determine whether there are any 'deal breakers' to prevent us from moving forward. With that behind us, working through the nitty-gritty of what a closer alliance might look like will require significant dedicated time, creativity and persistence."
The boards of trustees for the schools held their regular December meetings last week. Both voted to continue with a second phase of feasibility study, while also creating opportunities for the boards to interact directly with each other.
The schools' ad hoc strategic alliance board committees and administrative teams will continue to investigate initiatives designed to improve student success and learning outcomes, realize synergies, address cost increases, and foster growth with the goal of presenting additional information to the boards for consideration at their respective March 2014 meetings.
About St. Bonaventure
The nation's first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.
About Hilbert College
Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations.