Collaboratory demonstrates philanthropy and educational innovation

Collaboratory demonstrates philanthropy and educational innovation

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Judy Sedgeman

The buzzword in higher education these days is “innovation.” The impetus for creative change pushes these institutions against a tough obstacle: innovation and change require entrepreneurial spirt and investment. But, money and time are scarce.

This is where philanthropic efforts come into the picture. Major institutions have always been able to count on successful alumni donors to support traditional efforts -- from scholarships and endowed faculty chairs to science labs and sports facilities. But it’s not that easy to inspire individual donors for infrastructure changes that involve the risk of failure and even several years of internal efforts before anything becomes visible.

It takes a donor or a foundation with a unique view of transformational partnership to successfully execute visionary ideas rooted in educational philosophy -- ideas that reshape ways faculty approach teaching; ideas that reshape student learning by eliciting unique interaction between students, faculty and the “outside world”; and ideas that demand a shift in educational priorities.

Believing in the Power of a Transformational Partnership

There are many brilliant thought leaders in education. Their ideas are put forth in literature and at conferences, but the pace of actual change is extremely slow because the investment that would make it possible just isn’t there.

The partnership between The Patterson Foundation (TPF) and the Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) for a multi-year investment in the creation of a “Collaboratory” program is critical to the well-thought-through launch of a transformational program. The Collaboratory aligns with TPF's values, particularly: We believe meaningful change requires commitment and persistence, as well as We embrace new ideas to address a constantly changing world.

When it’s fully developed, the Collaboratory will redefine the experience of art and design education for students, promote interdisciplinary curriculum design among faculty, and develop uncommon connections to involve the corporate world in the educational process.

RCAD President Larry Thompson nurtured a vision for his school, but until the Foundation partnership came together, he knew he didn’t have the resources at hand to do it right and make it sustainable. The hope is that when the Collaboratory at Ringling College is totally integrated into the institution’s lexicon, the learning from this partnership will energize other philanthropic foundations to take a closer look at how they can support significant change in higher education.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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