Due to growth in American higher education, institutions have become compartmentalized and fragmented due to specialization. Responding to increases in enrollments, expansion of technology, and government regulation, as well as expanding population diversity and programs of study, institutions have become more specialized in addressing these issues (Blimling & Whitt, 1999, p. 136).
Specialization refers to departments which grew in answer to those expansion issues. Technology advancements and development of programs of study which are related to the growing needs of society have given impetus to this specialization. Results of this fragmentation are institutions comprised of a learning environment lacking connection or community.
Reconnecting academics to the college community via coalitions or partnerships are needed for this integration of the on-campus to the off-campus. Creating more student oriented learning environments compared to faculty oriented aids in building an inclusive community for a more positive college experience for students.
Currently, functional departments work individually to meet the needs of students while simultaneously working to achieve the school’s mission (Blimling & Whitt, 1999, p. 135). This paper seeks to elaborate how cross-functional dialogue can create a shared vision for a learning environment which is complementary both in and out of the classroom. Additionally, brought to light how bridging the gap between faculty and campus life benefits all participants in the cross-functional partnership.
College life according to Blimling & Whitt (1999) is made up of many disconnected experiences for students. This disconnect has evolved as institutions have adapted to increases in enrollment, diversity, government influences, and technology advancements. Technology expansion has influenced not only society needs but the need for new programs of study in education to support this expansion.
Programs of study such as global influences and economies, energy needs, homeland security, and technology to name a few. Expansion and growth have led to isolation of functional groups within the institution to meet its growing needs at the expense of the learning environment. Functional groups are so busy interacting within functions, coordination and collaboration efforts between functions is hindered (Blimling & Whitt, 1999, p. 137).
Examples of cross-functional collaborations or partnerships exist in learning communities, student affairs activities and services, as well as campus activities and programs which connect academics and student life. These collaborations create a shared vision of a learning environment comprised of in-class and out-of-class experiences which promote the whole student and inclusive community for a positive college experience (Blimling & Whitt, 1999, p. 135).
Learning communities are usually...