One key element that has made our collaboration successful is our desire and passion for learning, students, and building communities. Any true collaboration presents challenges, like setting aside individual egos and a desire to shine for the greater good of the community and students. Not all collaboration comes quickly or easily. Learning the give and take means learning to recognize when it is time to compromise for the shared vision and goals of student success.
How do we find it easiest to collaborate and innovate in these directions? We have found different meeting locations are important. Before COVID-19 we often met in our offices, rotating back and forth. COVID-19 forced us to get creative with our meeting time and space, starting with a meeting on Jennifer’s front porch in Summer 2020. Together, inspired by the beauty of the Menominee River, we felt our minds open to new ideas and creative solutions. It is amazing what natural light and a gentle breeze can do for one’s creativity. Winter proved more difficult. Meeting virtually between other virtual meetings meant very long days, lots of screen time, and, frankly, less creativity. This summer, we met together on Cindy’s back deck, surrounded by flowers, trees, and other signs of summer. The environment gave us just the lift we needed to jump-start more innovative and collaborative thinking.
We realize that the space we work in helps guide our efforts, but that alone is not enough. True collaboration requires transparency, honesty, and trust—and none of those come easily. The fact that we worked together for 19 years at UW-Marinette (now UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus) doesn’t hurt—but without that experience, the opportunity of getting to know your collaboration partner is still possible. The staff at the two Marinette campuses (NWTC and UW-Green Bay) demonstrate that it doesn’t take 19 years to build a relationship of trust. It goes back to the shared vision and commitment to student success. All of us at NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus share a passion for helping students of all ages find a path to a great career—to the life they want.
Staff from both campuses continue to learn about each other as professionals and as people, supporting each other’s work and life goals. Those personal connections help build trust and serve as the foundation of our partnership, allowing us to continue to bring the benefits of integrated higher education opportunities to our communities.