• Donald Tetto

Southwestern University has signed a partnership agreement with Dillard University that will enable the two to pursue collaborative initiatives in several areas, including institutional management, diversity education and other academic efforts.

The agreement formalizes a partnership that has already been in place for several years. In December 2005, Southwestern sponsored a program to help faculty members from Dillard recreate course materials lost in Hurricane Katrina and develop new online courses that could be offered to students regardless of their location.

Southwestern and Dillard also are participating in a collaborative leadership and student exchange project funded by the Mellon Foundation. This program also includes Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Morehouse College in Atlanta and Rhodes College in Memphis.

Creating formal alliances with historically black colleges and universities is one of the goals in Southwestern’s Strategic Plan for 2010.

“Southwestern is pleased to be able to work with Dillard University to formalize a partnership agreement that has been flourishing during the last two years,” said Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum. “It will encourage both institutions to cooperate on programs that enrich the educational experience of our faculties and our students.”

Schrum noted that the racial and cultural uniqueness of each student body provide a means to achieve a model program of complementary collaboration. Dillard is an historically black university located in New Orleans, an urban city, while Southwestern is a predominately white university located in Georgetown, Texas, a small city with a population of approximately 40,000. Both institutions are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and both offer only undergraduate degrees.

“This alliance has given Dillard an avenue of support that can only serve to broaden the diversity of the educational experience,” said Dillard President Marvalene Hughes. “As this university revitalizes itself and becomes the ‘new Dillard,’ we are happy to join hands with Southwestern in this critical endeavor.”

This is the second partnership agreement Southwestern has signed with an historically black college or university (HBCU). In April 2001, it signed a similar agreement with Huston-Tillotson University. As a result of this agreement, several staff members at Southwestern have provided management/administrative assistance to Huston-Tillotson. For example, Southwestern’s vice president for institutional advancement has conducted a workshop on fundraising for the Huston-Tillotson staff and board of trustees, and two members of Southwestern’s fiscal affairs office have provided assistance to Huston-Tillotson’s business office. In 2005, Ron Swain, senior advisor to the president at Southwestern, conducted the search to hire a new dean of students at Huston-Tillotson.

“There may be similar possibilities at Dillard,” Swain said.