Entrance Torch

Valparaiso University Receives $5M Grant from Lilly Endowment to Fund Higher Education Collaboration

March 25, 2021 – Valparaiso, Indiana – Valparaiso University has received a grant of $5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through the competitive Phase 3 of its initiative, Charting the Future of Indiana’s Colleges and Universities. The grant will support a partnership between Valpo, the University of Evansville, Drake University in Iowa and North Central College in Illinois to implement a shared, cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Valparaiso University is one of 16 Indiana colleges and universities that will be supported by funding in the final phase of Charting the Future, an initiative designed to help colleges and universities in Indiana assess and prioritize the most significant challenges and opportunities they face as higher education institutions and develop strategies to address them.

“I’m deeply grateful to Lilly Endowment for this grant that will help Valpo and three partner colleges and universities,” said José D. Padilla, president, Valparaiso University. “Lilly Endowment’s Charting the Future initiative has been so instrumental in helping Indiana colleges and universities develop innovative strategies to expand and better serve our students and is a testament to their philosophy of embracing traditions while engaging new ideas. Thanks to this grant, Valpo and our partners will be able to find new ways to pool our resources and expertise while developing best practices that can be modeled throughout higher education.”

The collaborating institutions will now begin assessing ERP options with a goal of incorporating best-in-class technology innovations, digital solutions and advanced data analytics and business intelligence to reduce non-academic costs and improve services.

It is expected that the conversion process from current, independent campus-based ERP systems to a single cloud-based system will take a number of years and significant effort on each of the campuses.

The four institutions have formed an independent, nonprofit organization called the College and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) to house the collaborative effort toward providing efficient and effective non-academic services. Once significant progress has been achieved, the intention is to enable additional institutions to join CUSP and achieve similar efficiency and effectiveness.

“The nature of this collaboration is unprecedented for private higher education institutions,” Padilla said. “We are facing unprecedented challenges, and now is the time for us to work together to demonstrate best-in-class business practices that foster partnership and creative solutions. Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning system that is shared across our institutions will allow us to increase efficiencies, expand our productivity and scope and focus on what is most important — educating talented young women and men who will become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Lilly Endowment launched the three-phased Charting the Future initiative in 2019 to help leaders of the state’s 38 colleges and universities engage in thoughtful discernment about the future of their institutions and to advance strategic planning and implementation efforts to address key challenges and opportunities.

Collaboration was encouraged, especially in the third phase of Charting the Future, and several schools proposed collaborative programs and strategies. Through three phases of grantmaking, Lilly Endowment awarded more than $138 million to the schools.

Through earlier rounds of the initiative, all 38 schools received planning grants, which were approved in December 2019, and implementation grants approved in June and September 2020. The implementation grants funded strategies to improve efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen the schools’ long-term institutional vitality.