St. Bonaventure University and Hilbert College Trustees Agree to Explore Closer Alliance


December 11, 2013

The idea to build on a successful 20-year partnership between St. Bonaventure University and Hilbert College, both Franciscan institutions in Western New York, gained considerable momentum this week with major foundation support.

The John R. Oishei Foundation has granted $300,000 to support and expand the present collaboration, sharing of facilities, curriculum development and complementary cultures.

The Oishei Foundation support is based on the belief that the two schools together can provide additional learning opportunities for a wider range of students at a more affordable cost.

The Boards of both institutions voted in September to conduct a feasibility study to discover how to form an even stronger alliance to deal with the disruption in higher education. The study will explore how to bring more collaboration, a greater sense of entrepreneurship, and better, more affordable opportunities to students.
The grant will enable the schools to make progress in their analysis of the strategic alliance alternatives. Campus leaders and faculty in the last few months have shared documentation and information with each other to determine whether there are any ‘deal breakers’ to prevent the schools from moving forward. 

With that part complete, 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.  



 October 1, 2013 - Announcement

Over twenty years ago, two proud Catholic Franciscan institutions in Western New York joined forces to share resources and broaden access to graduate programs.

Our partnership has expanded over the years to include sharing of facilities, curriculum development and a complementary culture. This relationship has blessed our students with extraordinary learning opportunities they never would have experienced otherwise.

Given our success in the past, we are now engaged in a feasibility study to discover the data and information necessary to determine whether our institutions can work even closer together. Our Boards have approved this feasibility study, which grants authority to share data and information on all relevant aspects of the past, present and predictable future of our organizations. 

While the feasibility analysis is a ‘discovery process’, we wouldn’t be investing in this effort if we didn’t think there were likely some ways in which St. Bonaventure and Hilbert College could collaborate more closely and achieve greater synergies.

While there is not a lot more to say at this point, until the feasibility process is completed, what we can tell you is our purpose starts – and ends – with students, who deserve the very best higher education experience we can provide, and access to the great minds and energy in both institutions.

Higher education can no longer count on annual tuition increases, an abundance of qualified applicants, a steady flow of fundraising dollars, and traditional methods of classroom instruction.

It’s a new world out there, not for the faint of heart.

That’s why we take the step today to see if two Franciscan organizations can together rise to a challenge like the one President Obama recently posed: to do more to innovate curriculum, attract top students and faculty, keep rising costs in check, and offer life-changing educational opportunities. We’ve been doing this for decades, but there is much more we can do.

As we go about the process of considering options, we will always keep in mind the importance of the college years for our students, and the need to preserve the heritage, culture and close-knit communities that make us unique.

We will keep you informed during the process, and invite you to provide feedback and share your opinions about something so important to all of us.