Partnering with Higher Education Institutions

CHC Outreach continues its partnership web series with a look at how CHCs interact with colleges and universities. While some CHCs cultivate these relationships, others miss out on accessing the valuable resources that institutions of higher learning offer.

Community colleges, four-year universities, and technical schools are filled with students who have skills and expertise that enable CHCs to improve preservation projects. Develop these partnerships to expand a CHC’s capacity and introduce new generations to the importance of preservation. 

Partnerships with Higher Ed Institutions

When discussing successful partnerships, we often begin the conversation with a description of what mutually beneficial relationships look like. With institutions of higher education, we want to see the CHC gaining access to expertise offered by the schools and volunteer power from its teachers and students. In exchange the CHC should provide staff and students with ways to expand their understanding of topics related to areas of study.

Here are examples of CHCs that demonstrate an understanding of how to create programs that benefit the CHC and the schools with which it partners.

Benefits of these Partnerships

CHCs have statutory responsibilities to educate the public, which makes institutions of higher learning ideal partners. Here are reasons why these partnerships are important. Again, notice how our featured CHC examples (web link above) take advantage of benefits that result from these relationships.

Introduces your CHC to subject matter experts––Working with colleges, universities, and technical schools introduces your CHC to individuals directly related to history and others related to expertise that complements preservation-related activities. CHCs can work with faculty, staff, and students to expand research, programs, and events. Use these contacts as advisors and speakers for ongoing efforts. In exchange, promote the work of these professionals.

Creates learning opportunities for everyone––Now that you’ve identified the subject matter experts, work with them to provide presentations and activities that promote local history and train individuals to care for historic resources appropriately. You can even create projects that address CHC needs, while providing outcomes that that fulfill class obligations for faculty and students.

Utilizes staff and student know-how––Most CHCs require assistance to provide professional care for sites and collections. Recent years have demonstrated an increased interest in digitization of CHC and county archives. At times, colleges will oversee students as they scan historical documentation, set up online databases of historic properties, and survey historic resources. CHCs access technical expertise and schools provide practical experience to students.

Provides access to amenities––These institutions have facilities, equipment, and repositories that the CHC can use to further its mission. Some of these amenities are not readily available to the public and cost prohibitive for the CHC to purchase on its own. A project that has been put aside because of its complexity or cost can be implemented with access to these places, tools, and reference materials. Institutions want to validate spending and usage of these organizational resources; helping the CHC use these resources demonstrates need and public benefit for the school.

Create community service projects––Many CHCs initiate community service projects that require no more than a day, but take more physical strength than technology based endeavors. Faculty, staff, and students have interests outside of the classroom and are looking for a way to serve their community. Some may even be interested in joining the CHC to serve on a long-term basis. Marker repairs, cemetery clean-ups, or event set-up and clean-up are common CHC tasks that require extra hands. Include these partners in your projects!

Contact your local colleges, universities, and technical schools to discuss ways in which your organizations can collaborate. Keep in mind that many students are looking for internships and projects during the school year and summer that will enhance resumes and skillsets. Partner with institutions of higher learning to provide them with unique opportunities to learn and grow, while pursuing the CHC’s mission to preserve and protect cultural and historic resources. 

Photos listed from top to bottom: Cameron CHC provides technical preservation training to UT-Brownsville students; Travis CHC works with Austin Community College to sponsor student essay contest; and Brewster CHC provides county history exhibit at Sul Ross State University. 

To revisit the partnership web series, click here.