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Collaborations are hardly an innovation on the education front, but it does seem to me their importance is expanding. Certainly for a self-professed up-and-comer like Mason, collaborations are a vital means of expansion and improvement.

We’re pleased, of course, at the growth of dual degree collaborations with various international partners. The China 1-2-1 program is by now a fixture for Mason, sending us excellent students and opening other partnership possibilities with Chinese institutions. The program in conflict analysis with the University of Malta is a clear success, and this semester we’re pleased to welcome the first students from the dual degree program in economics with the Higher School in Moscow. The undergraduate collaboration with Moscow State is also a modest success, though still building.

Collaborations with the Smithsonian remain robust. Next fall, we’ll be expanding the program in conservation studies at Front Royal with the new facilities we’re jointly building there. The decorative arts masters degree is also running strong, and the collaboration with Georgetown Medical School in medical education is developing nicely. And there are others as well — the point is, we have a lot more going on than we did a decade ago.

There are, however, challenges. Working with other institutions and cultures takes more time than I would have expected (and, of course, our partners would say the same about us). Registrar issues can be knotty. Just getting lawyers to sign off on agreements is not a walk in the park. An interesting issue involves development work: over time, one can get two development offices to work together, but it requires a bit of a push sometimes. Overall, commonly, more resources need to be thrown at administrative leadership than one might imagine.

I still think, in the main, the results are more than worth the trouble, and I would expect our agenda to expand further in future. Again, it’s an interesting feature, at least, of our recent experience.