Ripon College and Marian University in Fond du Lac have jointly received a grant of $50,000 from the Transformational Partnerships Fund to continue to exploring a possible alliance. The grant is funding a summer faculty-led study of how the two institutions might work together academically.

Over the past several months, a joint working group of Ripon and Marian faculty, staff, students, administrators and trustees have been evaluating the potential of a strategic alliance, and a vision has emerged that has the potential to strengthen both institutions while preserving the character and values of each school.

“We are pleased to have received funding from the Transformational Partnerships Fund, which provides support for institutions of higher education to explore student-centric partnerships,” said Andrea Young, Ripon College’s vice president for finance and co-chair of the group studying the partnership.

“While both schools are currently in a position of relative financial stability, changing demographics and increasing costs will continue to challenge our business models as we move into and beyond the projected enrollment cliff that begins in 2026. We believe that both schools have unique cultures and strengths and that, together, we may be able to provide a more compelling academic and co-curricular experience to students while maintaining individual institutional identity.”

The Transformational Partnerships Fund supports the exploration of partnerships that could fundamentally improve how schools operate and serve students — including students of color, students from low-income families, and other underserved populations. The fund was established by ECMC Foundation and SeaChange Capital Partners, with additional funding support from Ascendium Education Group and The Kresge Foundation.

The grant is supporting five faculty members from each school who are working this summer to explore curricular possibilities that leverage strengths of both institutions and align with the interests and needs of their current and future students. A decision about the next steps in the process toward a partnership likely will be made toward the end of summer.