Carleton and St. Olaf will soon work together on college courses

And cooperation? (Northfielder via Flickr)

Northfield’s old rivals — St. Olaf College and Carleton College — are teaming up to save costs.

A $1.4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will have them jointly run some areas of their information technology, administration — even academic programming.

St. Olaf President David Anderson said sharing some college operations would be more efficient:

“One of the things that the financial crisis brought out into the open was a deep and abiding concern among Americans about the cost of college. So the president of Carleton and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s time that we don’t need to have two of everything in Northfield, Minnesota. And that can help us address that concern.”

Carleton President Steven Poskanzer says they could hold joint courses. Or a professor from one school could teach a specialty as part of a class at the other school.

He told me:

“In the long run, this recognizes the fact that we can give a broader and richer array of academic courses and learning opportunities for students jointly than we can with one campus individually.”

The two colleges already share a few things, including library services, thanks to a smaller Mellon grant they got previously.

Campus officials said this new grant will enable them to integrate their libraries more by, among other things, creating a common internet portal for them. That way students from each college will have the same online experience, they said.

But both Poskanzer and Anderson emphasized that the two colleges have no plans to merge.