Northfield's historic rivals, St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, will work together on some academic programs and administrative services, thanks to a $1.4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Carleton News reported an initial project began ten years ago with the creation of a cross-library borrowing system. The Mellon Foundation awarded the schools a planning grant in 2012 so they could identify more areas for collaboration.
The new grant allows them to implement that plan, starting with a more sophisticated library system with a shared research portal.
The colleges will also award competitive grants to support faculty-led pilot projects that lead to academic collaboration.
MPR News reported the colleges have no plans to merge. Rather, collaborating will help them innovate in challenging economic times.
"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,'" said St. Olaf President David Anderson.
The schools may hold some joint courses. Or an academic specialist from one school could guest-lecture as part of a course at the other.
"We can give a broader and richer array of academic courses and learning opportunities for students jointly than we can with one campus individually," said Carleton President Steven Poskanzer.