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Bona, Hilbert discussing strengthening alliance

Hilbert College and Saint Bonaventure University are talking about a strategic alliance and the two schools have chosen an executive director to oversee the conversation. Hilbert and Bona have shared Hilbert's Hamburg campus for more than 20 years, with Bonaventure operating a graduate studies center on the campus. They have been in a strategic conversation for ten months and with a grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, the colleges have brought in Teresa O'Rourke as the facilitator for the talks.

Hilbert President Cynthia Zane says both schools are looking at a seismically shifting higher education scene, as fewer and fewer students are graduating from high schools in Western New York and more families are trying to save money by spending the first two college years in a community college.

Zane says O'Rourke solves a lot of problems while both schools are in pretty good shape.       

"How could we do it proactively while we are both in great financial shape, while neither of us is struggling. but also recognizing that as an institution at Hilbert, with 1,000 students and Saint Bonaventure with about 2,200 students, we were vulnerable," said Zane.

Zane says it's too early to say what kind of agreement the two schools come up with, with O'Rourke's help. She says having O'Rourke on board, she and Saint Bonaventure President Sister Margaret Carney will have time to run their institutions while the new executive director commutes back and forth.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.