Merging of colleges in Michigan

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Transition director talks about how he helped merge Ferris State and Kendell College of Arts and Design
Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - 4:55pm

Experience is more dynamic than educational degrees and ability. When experience is combined with education and ability, prolific results can be anticipated. This is the case with Cory L. Duckworth,J.D., the transition director for the affiliation between the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University.

Duckworth was involved in a similar merger process in the state of Michigan where he gained hands-on experience dealing with a higher education merger. That merger consisted of Ferris State University and Kendal College of Arts and Design.

Similar to the intricate issues that have encompassed the CEU/USU affiliation, the FSU and KCAD merger also presented various issues that required careful analysis. Due to the complex nature of the task, several committees were developed to ensure that the important aspects of each institution were part of the process. Duckworth served as vice president of university advancement and marketing at FSU and as a result worked on a committee dealing with the image, name, alumni procedures and other important information assigned to that committee for the merger.

After information from the committees was gathered and assessed, recommendations were then given to the president's cabinet. Duckworth also served as a member of this cabinet along with the president of KCAD . They played an important role in making the final decisions with the merger.

The initial merger was commenced after a year of exploration, but the overall process took about three years to complete. Many issues were brought to light after the merger was in place. Over the last two years, there were many questions still to be answered.

An understanding of each institution was important to successfully realize the complex outcomes of that merger. FSU is a technical school, while KCAD is an arts and design school. KCAD is not your ordinary arts and design school because it specializes in furniture design. Merging with a technical school would be beneficial to the arts and design students whose futures involve furniture manufacturing. It was also viewed by FSU as a positive hands-on learning situation for both schools.

Duckworth explained that there were also a few other motivating factors for KCAD to merge with FSU. Such factors include: KCAD was looking for financial assistance in order to stay open, the location of each institution was ideal for the merger because of the relatively close distance between the two schools, and it would help FSU develop a strong presence in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area where there are many manufacturing-related employers.

Other factors of interest for those interested in the CEU/USU affiliation include: the faculty and administration of each institution remained the same for the most part, and the enrollment rates at each institution continued to grow.

In his previous positions at FSU and in his service during the merger with KCAD, Duckworth has acquired experience that will benefit him as the transition director for the CEU/USU affiliation. He is confident that great decisions will be achieved during this affiliation to assist the institutions as they move forward.

Commenting on his vision of the CEU/USU merger he said, "From the conversations I've had with people from both of the institutions, there is clearly a sense of goodwill and interest in being sensitive to the needs and concerns of people on both sides. I think that everyone is coming to the project with an eye towards accomplishing something that is very good for all involved. To the extent that that we can focus on creating positive outcomes, the affiliation process will result in a very successful and productive relationship."

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