Our region’s colleges, universities, and campuses each have their own, distinct identities and offerings. But together, they are working to transform the regional delivery and impact of higher education on the Gulf Coast.
The Cross College Alliance comprises six institutions dedicated to higher education and community building along the Florida’s Gulf Coast. Collectively, they enroll 18,000 students and have more than 500 faculty members and 2,000 staff.
Five member institutions in Sarasota and Manatee counties have main campuses within just a few miles of each other: New College of Florida; Ringling College of Art and Design; State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota; University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee; and The Ringling, which is administered by Florida State University. The sixth member, Eckerd College, is right across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in south St. Petersburg.
This higher-education collaborative broadens educational experiences through unique but complementary programs, services, and philosophies. Rethinking education together, the Cross College Alliance seeks to establish our region as a destination for academic excellence. Through a number of collaborative efforts, the Alliance strives to:
• Bring students together – through collaborative programs and services made available to all students, including lifelong learners in our communities
• Bring administrations together – by encouraging faculty and staff to work together to promote shared research and increased access to knowledge
• Attract industry to our region – increasing opportunities for graduates and community members and keeping local talent here on the Gulf Coast
• Work better together – leveraging efficiencies and resources to address shared challenges and opportunities faced by the member institutions
Current initiatives include cross-registration, which gives students access to educational offerings beyond their home campus, as well as faculty collaborations across colleges. There is also joint work underway in the areas of career services, student life, and business operations.
The Cross College Alliance got its start in 2014, when Gulf Coast Community Foundation funded a retreat for the presidents of New College, Ringling College, State College of Florida, and USF Sarasota-Manatee, who wanted to explore ways they could collaborate and share resources. A second Gulf Coast-funded retreat built on that work by including academic leaders and other administrators and expanding the group to include Eckerd and The Ringling.
Originally dubbed the Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast—C4 for short—the group formally announced an initiative manager and its first two shared goals in January 2016. Funded by Gulf Coast, the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Dr. Laurey Stryker assumed the manager position to coordinate and expedite the vision set forth by the college leaders.
A Regional “Calling Card”
Co-branding their collective resources and the region as an innovative higher-ed destination was an early priority for the group. After several months of research involving students and community members of each institution, a new name and brand — the Cross College Alliance — was announced in August 2017. A dedicated website at CrossCollegeAlliance.org serves as a place to share collaborations.
“When the strength of these institutions’ faculty, programs, and leadership is assembled and leveraged, our region has almost all of the resources of a major research university,” said Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation president and CEO. "The Cross College Alliance is working to attract more quality students to our communities, provide a stronger workforce for our businesses, and help diversify our economy. This will become a real ‘calling card’ for our region."