TODAY MARKS a big change in my teaching career as I walk the final steps with my Tipperary Institute colleagues into a collaborative venture with the Limerick Institute of Technology. One of the measures of merit lies in whether the amalgamation of the two institutions will increase collegial collaboration.
Like the photo at left shows, I normally attend Limerick Open Coffee on the first Thursday of every month but today, I'm inside the Millennium Theatre on the Moylish campus some three miles away. For years--years--I have made the run to Limerick for this casual yet targeted meet-up with entrepreneurs and I have helped some of our best students find work as a result of my LOCC visits. I've also improved the content I deliver to our creative multimedia students as a result of working with the founders and promoters who attend Open Coffee sessions. I've often wondered why lecturers from LIT don't attend these kinds of community meet-ups. Graham Royce, from the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre, is a regular from LIT but he's not a lecturer. Without contact at the lecturer level, collaboration is just a concept.
I've heard pub talk in Limerick that suggests the School of Tipperary is viewed as the weak link among all the schools under the LIT umbrella. I've read comments on blogs and discussion threads that further cements that opinion. Aware of these toxic sentiments, I'm very curious to see how this new amalgamation--essential for the survival of third level education in County Tipperary--will pan out. It has to start with leaving the caustic comments behind and engaging in meaningful, personal, collegial collaboration.
So I will finish my cuppa and publish this short blog post before heading off into a morning filled with talks about "engagement" and "vision" and "consolidation" and "strategic plan". I hope that at the end of this day I will meet at least three LIT lecturers who share the vision of connecting and collaborating across the 42 miles that separate our Limerick and Clonmel campus locations. If you're one of those collaborators, ping me on Twitter (@topgold) or Google Plus (gplus.to/topgold) or LinkedIn. Or just leave a comment on my blog.
This adventure in collaboration has to work.
Photos from my visits to Limerick OpenCoffee.