University Partnerships - Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we undertaking this assignment now?

Recognizing the value and importance of partnerships in advancing NIU’s mission, the NIU Board of Trustees has established an increase in partnerships as a Presidential Goal for this year.  We need to set a baseline of the number of partnerships currently in place within the university so we can measure our progress on this goal going forward.

Is this connected to Program Prioritization?

Program Prioritization helped us understand the need to do a better job of aligning our efforts to maximize their effects. Understanding what faculty, staff and students across the campus are accomplishing with external partners will help us identify opportunities for collaboration and tell NIU’s story more effectively.

What types of partnerships should we be including?

We recognize that there are many different types of partnerships. We ask that faculty and staff share information about partnerships that demonstrate mutual benefit between NIU individuals/entities and external individuals/entities.

Why is it necessary to distinguish among the three partnership types?

Partnerships vary in intensity and longevity and in many other ways. A simple typology will help us to track growth in each of these types. One type is not better or more important than the others; the type of relationships depends on the goal of the partnership. Some partnerships may develop over time from one point on the continuum to the next. In other cases, simple coordination is the ideal level of partnership.

How can I tell which category my partnership falls into?

Here’s a simple table that gives attributes of each of the three levels of partnership. Your partnership(s) may not be an exact match, but select the level that seems closest to your experience.

Coordinating Cooperating Collaborating
Exchanging information for mutual benefit Exchanging information for mutual benefit Exchanging information for mutual benefit
Altering activities for mutual benefit Altering activities for mutual benefit Altering activities for mutual benefit
Sharing resources for mutual benefit Sharing resources for mutual benefit
Enhancing the capacity of each other for mutual benefit and common purpose
Exploring shared vision
Mutual financial resource development

You are also asked to indicate whether the partnership is new or sustaining, as the trustees have expressed interest in that aspect of our partnership experience as well. The partnership should be noted as new if it has been established within the 2017-2018 academic year; it should be noted as sustaining if it is continuing from a point before this academic year.

How will the information that is collected be used?

The primary purpose for collecting this information is to get an idea of the number of partnerships in which NIU faculty and staff are involved. As OERD collects this information, we may see opportunities for cross-collaboration. If so, we might reach out to you to ask for more information, make a suggestion or provide an introduction. In addition, the information may be used to identify exemplary initiatives to be highlighted in university communications. If that is the case, a staff member will reach out to you to discuss.

What if multiple people report the same partnership? How do we account for duplicates?

If your partnership involves multiple NIU individuals/units, it would be helpful if you would touch base with one another so that only one person reports it. If it appears the same partnership has been reported multiple times, we will count it only once if the duplication is clear or reach out to a contact person for clarification. We anticipate that multiple NIU units may be partnering with the same external unit. For example, many different researchers interact with regional school systems. We would consider individual projects to represent individual partnerships.

Is this a one-time exercise or will it be ongoing?

The presidential goal is to demonstrate growth and sustainability of partnerships over time. Therefore, OERD will gather partnership information in this format at least once a year. That said, OERD is always interested in partnering with faculty and staff and supporting your partnership efforts, so we are glad to hear from you at any time during the year.


Are you a community organization or business? Request a partnership with NIU.

Current faculty and staff, tell us about your partnerships.

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Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
307 Lowden Hall

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