Archive for December, 2009

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Tue Dec 22nd 2009 at 7:15pm UTC

The Moleskine Index

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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This season is always weird for me. I was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, so Christmas is something that we do, but I was also brought up through the late 80s and early 90s when black nationalist rap was shaping my consciousness, and back then A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and the Poor Righteous Teachers were empowering us to overthrow the tyranny of the Christian calendar, much to my mother’s chagrin. It’s been easy for us to keep the peace though. While Wikipedia tells us that the Christians may have borrowed the date from that Roman party animal of the cosmos, Saturn, I’m not so mad about it that I can’t enjoy the feasting. Plus my contrarian position means that no one really has to buy me anything, and I don’t really expect anything. This is convenient because my years as DJ/student didn’t often leave me with much at the end of the year. There usually isn’t much that I really want anyways. Fellowship is its own reward.

But this year is different. And no, the nature of fellowship hasn’t changed. What has changed however, is your favorite writer’s favorite notebook. And I want one. For me and, moreover, for Ottawa. Thank the good people at Moleskine (from the MoleskineCity page):

This area is dedicated to the city and to urban life, to travelers and residents, to independent and free-thinking people.

MoleskineCity is associated with City Notebooks, the first guide you write yourself.

Each city includes a page where you can find basic information, updates and curious facts.

Here you can organize your trip or your own personal way of experiencing the city, your own paths and interests.

Dare I say that in the coldest capital city in the world, this pretty much melted my face on sight. I mean, not only am I currently engaged in the process of putting together a cultural mapping process, but I LOVE Moleskines and have for years. I’ve been charting my progress on this process in my Moleskine. (Recently I graduated to the Plain Reporter Pocket Notebook from the Plain Pocket Notebook and there’s no going back, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s amazing how Moleskine is focusing on the city and on facilitating a deeper engagement with it by offering a bit of cultural and spatial context and letting you fill in the rest. On beautiful acid-free paper and bound in the finest leather to boot. There are very cool informatic implications if they could somehow digitize the process, but it’s almost cooler that things remain analog. And they’ve started with some pretty interesting cities. But where’s Ottawa? How does a city get onto this list?!

If there was a Santa, he’d figure out a way to get Canada’s capital in the next round of Moleskine Cities!! Or maybe I have to ask that other guy…

And now, with all the greetings of the season, some music.

Happy Holidays!

Sean Creighton
by Sean Creighton
Tue Dec 22nd 2009 at 1:01pm UTC

Campus As Economic Engine

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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Nowadays, you cannot talk about higher education without the conversation including economic development. Published economic impact studies indicate that campuses are major contributors to their economies. Look at these figures:

This week, the University of Dayton (UD) purchased NCR Corp.’s former world headquarters for $18 million. The location will house the university’s world-class research institute and provide space to work on projects that will stimulate commercialization, business growth, and local job creation. In a region that has endured substantial job loss, UD continues to be a vital economic engine and key contributor to the economic future of Dayton.

While these examples demonstrate major economic contributions by campuses, do they impact economic development policy for a region, state, or nation? Do such stories and economic studies influence policymakers to direct new investment in, to take David Miller’s term, campus entrepreneurship? If you have examples, please share.

Happy Holidays!

David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Dec 16th 2009 at 10:52am UTC

Showdown on Taxing Higher Education in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

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An intense debate has gripped Pittsburgh and the higher education universe since Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a plan to tax tuition at colleges and universities located in the city. The Mayor is looking to use the schools in a small way to attack a large budget deficit and argues that the tax is such a small part of a family’s cost for higher education that it won’t affect anything (the old “tax” the rich idea – “it is so small it won’t affect them”).

The tax proposal would really hit elite research universities such as Carnegie Mellon and U of Pittsburgh with their higher tuition rates. But is the Mayor attacking the goose that lays the golden eggs? Pittsburgh’s higher education cluster is a strength  that has anchored the city for decades and helped prevent it from becoming Detroit. Why not tax the Steelers?

Today (December 16) is the vote, and according to some commentators, early reports of easy passage may be untrue. The universities have protested mightily and it appears they may be changing some minds.

Higher education plays a central role in America’s entrepreneurial and innovative strength, sustained economic growth, and increasing standards of living. The sector is undergoing great stress right now and the events and policies in leading centers such as Pittsburgh and California (where some old school protesting of tuition hikes are taking place) will tell us a great deal about what is to come. Where do you think this is all going?

Peter Kageyama
by Peter Kageyama
Tue Dec 15th 2009 at 8:00am UTC

Where Is Your Reset?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

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I was talking to a 60-year-old, retired entrepreneur at a party the other night. Successful guy, very sharp. I asked him what he thinks is next for Florida and he said he did not have much hope for Florida, mostly due to lack of visionary leadership. Then he said something that really struck me. He suggested that Florida is on a course to reset to its old state of being “cheap, sunny, and dumb.”

That really struck me because while we are all talking about the great reset that is going on, I had not thought to ask the question, “What does Florida reset to?” And he may very well be right. At the state level, we are relaxing the rules for developers  to encourage even more sprawl to try to kick-start our construction industry again. We are actually lowering impact fees in places. We are lowering protections on the environment. This seems like a reset towards “cheap, sunny, and dumb.” There are powerful forces and attitudes that could very well push Florida back into this reset mode. And that is pretty scary.

While we all generally agree that this reset is needed and welcomed in some cases, we should be careful that we don’t reset back to a point so far back that we actually lose too much of our hard won progress. We all have to ask ourselves and our leadership what the plan and vision is for this reset. Each community is facing this and we act as if the reset is just something that will happen. That is not the case, yet I hear far too little  debate as to how we actively shape the reset.

Sean Creighton
by Sean Creighton
Mon Dec 14th 2009 at 9:02pm UTC

Does Higher Ed Benefit In a Recession?

Monday, December 14th, 2009

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Because enrollment is trending upward across the country, especially with community colleges seeing double-digit growth in many states, this news becomes fodder to perpetuate a belief that “higher education benefits in a recession.” Is that the real story?

Even in states that have made higher ed a priority, funding for public colleges and universities is inevitably cut or, in the best case scenario, held flat during a serious economic downturn. And, certainly, there are no new public dollars to invest in a recession. How is this a benefit to higher ed? Furthermore, private institutions have seen their endowments drop over 20 percent on average. Harvard saw a whopping 30 percent decline in its endowment, which translates to a loss of tens of billions of dollars. Benefit?

So, what’s the story then? “People benefit from higher education in a recession.” Higher ed is the central place people turn to in an effort to invest in their life, personally and professionally, and transform their future. Fortunately, colleges make adjustments to preserve academic integrity during a recession, accommodating the numerous people who are making the investment in their education at this time.

Do you think this particular enrollment boom is a decade in the making and indicates a massive transition from a manufacturing job-based economy to a creative economy?

Michael Wells
by Michael Wells
Fri Dec 11th 2009 at 8:54pm UTC

How Hoving Survived

Friday, December 11th, 2009

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Thomas Hoving, who ran the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the mid-‘60s to the mid-‘70s, died yesterday. Hoving re-imagined, rebuilt, rejuvenated, and re-branded the Met, adding several new wings and new departments. In the process, he revolutionized most major museums in the U.S., introducing the blockbuster traveling exhibit and putting the focus on attracting the general public rather than just the elite.

But among all of the art controversy and politics, buried in one short paragraph in the full page obituary in today’s New York Times, is I think the reason for his success and survival at the Met. It reads:

“Despite his braggadocio, Mr. Hoving, the son of a Fifth Avenue merchandising tycoon, proved to be an able administrator and budgeteer. Even during the city’s financial crisis, when many other cultural institutions were in the red, the museum was usually able to balance its books, and its merchandising operation grew tremendously in his years, eventually contributing more than $1 million in annual income.”

Several years ago, I took one of those weeklong “Executive Education” intensives at Harvard Business School (one for public broadcasting executives). The Met under Hoving was an accounting case study. When Hoving took over the Met was running large annual deficits and he reorganized operations, demanding that they start making money. We were given financial statements and asked how long the museum could keep losing money at its current rate – the answer was over 100 years, given the size of its endowment and quasi-endowments. Hoving told the trustees the Met was “moribund, gray, and dieing” and they were living on their savings. Along with revolutionizing the art side, he revolutionized the business.

Hoving’s business sense and ability to make money insulated him from being ousted for the many controversial initiatives, acquisitions, and PR stunts he undertook. He was able to back up his talk with actions and satisfy the business leaders and donors the Met depended on, and they backed his success.

There are important lessons here for anyone wanting to expand support for the arts, or for that matter undertake any bold leadership initiatives.

David Miller
by David Miller
Thu Dec 10th 2009 at 5:16pm UTC

SBA on Brain Drain, Mobility, and BA Attainment

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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Earlier this week, Chad Moutray, Chief Economist of the Office of Advocacy for the SBA,  released a research paper titled Educational Attainment, “Brain Drain,” and Self-Employment: Examining Interstate Mobility of Baccalaureate Graduates, 1993-2003.

The paper makes use of the Dept. of Edu’s 2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) database. Moutray investigates the employment and location of self-employed and wage and salary workers 10 years after graduation. Some of the findings include:

  • academic achievement (grades) is more likely to indicate higher mobility than choice of major
  • states with “knowledge economies” are more likely to attract these highly mobile college graduates
  • having strong ties to home detracts from mobility – actually owning a home ‘crushes’ mobility for self-employed

You can download this interesting and important paper via the SBA’s Office of Advocacy and here’s the link to the December 8 press release.

Sean Creighton
by Sean Creighton
Thu Dec 10th 2009 at 11:42am UTC

Mighty Edu

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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Mighty Edu: Higher Education’s Transformation of Economy, Community, and Life… that’s the book I want to read. Actually, that’s the book I want to write. Okay, it’s a tad lofty. Yet, appropriately so, because what higher ed does is lift up people and place. It is the hub of talent attraction and production. Its economic impact runs deep, and is anchored: campuses do not relocate for better tax incentives. An Appleseed study showed that three research universities in Ohio alone accounted for a total economic impact of over $6 billion (Appleseed Inc., 2006).

A campus is a continuous flow of creativity, research, and social capital, channeling vibrancy into communities and with a global reach. And, yes, too, higher ed provides a life-changing scene for students and employees. In addition to fostering an inspirational living and learning environment and launching graduates into the workforce, college is where numerous people have met their spouse(s). While the numbers have decreased because people are marrying later nowadays, college is still the place where over 25 percent of men meet their wife (National Fatherhood Initiative, 2005).

I could go on and on like a proud papa. This Creative Class Exchange seems like a perfect space to explore The Mighty Edu together, and get that book written! What are some thoughts, stories, chapters you’d like to add regarding higher ed’s influence in these core areas or other areas?

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Thu Dec 10th 2009 at 3:14am UTC

Congrats to a Beautiful City

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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A massive congratulatory shout out and thank you is due to Devon Ostrom and the Beautiful City Alliance on behalf of the city of Toronto. With little but an imperative to act, a willingness to collaborate, and the long-suffering of an ascetic, this determined group of young people were able to establish some cultural sustainability within the city by successfully petitioning council for a new tax on billboards, with a percentage of the monies generated going to a fund for city beautification through local arts. The billboard tax passed a day or so ago, at $10.4 million in revenue annually along with the new bylaw! But don’t take it from me.

From Beautifulcity.ca:

This massive step forward means that thousands of arts projects will eventually be funded and that many of the problems associated with excessive and illegal billboard signage are finally being addressed… It needed to be done this way to get it through Council at the amount necessary to compensate Torontonians properly for use of public space — and not have a bunch of Councillor’s personal projects and agendas eat away at the allotment. To be short, it was the best way to get a clean vote.

While some councilors with their eyes on the corporate dollar are non-plussed right now, I can’t imagine that this is really so bad for them. Canadian cities have a very limited set of tax-tools that they can use to generate income and a disproportionate amount of it comes from property tax. Moving in the direction of diversification in this way should be welcome, even if it feels pyrrhic from their perspective. Especially with all of the public buy-in. Not to mention the overwhelming media support. If you have some time, definitely read up on this initiative. It was a very, very long and tough battle that tested organization, commitment, and resolve but this alliance of artists and supporters got it done.

I had actually been asked to depute on behalf of the alliance before the Toronto city council, but because things were constantly getting pushed back it wasn’t possible. While I won’t break out the full deputation here, I’ll riff on what I wrote briefly to reflect upon the victory.

So Mississauga, where my parents eventually moved to, is west of Toronto. This means to come into the city there were two ways to do it. Either by car taking the Gardiner Expressway, or by public transit – the bus-to-subway mission. Both ways gave you very different entries into the city and I loved them both.

When you’re flying down the Gardiner, just as you hit the curve by Ontario Place, there’s this straightaway where the city just opens up, and it’s pretty breathtaking. One of the things that can be seen is an impressive stretch of billboards on the left. I always liked reading the advice that would come across the Inglis billboard or seeing the new 3-D ones that the airlines would sometimes mount. I had no idea how or when they changed them, and that was cool to me. But then coming in by the subway there were other things to see, particularly the wall in between Keele and Dundas West stations. It was and still is one of the most famed graffiti spots in the city and a place where I saw some of the most iconic images of my young life. That space between those two stations was endearing me to the city every time I’d pass it by. The idea that there were people out there making the city more beautiful of their own volition made it seem more alive and vibrant to me.

This initiative is a way to bring those two experiences of very different art into a mutually supportive relationship, and there’s something about that that’s really cool.

Now, toasting to success, let’s take a look around this beautiful city with the homie Drake:

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Tue Dec 8th 2009 at 9:21am UTC

What Copenhagen Tells Us About Workplace Trends

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

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This week, thousands have flown across oceans or traversed continents to be in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference.  There, politicians, scientists, rock stars, journalists, and academics will discuss reducing the carbon dioxide and monoxide humans are spewing into the atmosphere.

It’s intriguing to me that thousands of people, all theoretically committed to reducing their own carbon footprints, see a reason to be in Copenhagen, rather than listening in from home via technology.

The actual scheduled events, speeches, etc. can all be viewed at home. A few bloggers and writers on site could provide additional context. Yet, thousands had to go for themselves.

Two key reasons why they likely traveled reveals some workplace trends for the 21st century:

1. Making human connections in today’s global economy trumps carbon concerns.

A main reason why so many are in Copenhagen this week is to network — to meet other world leaders, scientists, activists, journalists. Sharing ideas, comparing notes could result in new ideas and innovations going forward. Moreover, making new friends and allies never hurts. Finally, even knowing one’s enemies better can be worth the trip.

Lesson for workplace trends: Even the most ecologically committed will likely commute to the office regularly (even if they telecommute some days), as well as travel to business and client meetings. They’ll do this not for the formal agenda, but for the informal spin-offs from unexpected encounters and conversations.

2.  Being seen at the important meetings is crucial to many people’s personal “brands.” One reason leaders like U.S. President Obama and Canadian PM Harper are going is because a significant number of voters at home are concerned that their country’s government is not doing enough to help the environment. Other aspiring green leaders would not be considered “players” if they were not there, mingling, networking, and being seen.

Lesson for workplace trends: Image is important. And again, appears to trump carbon concerns. (I assume some at the climate change conference will “green wash” their trips by purchasing “offsets” involving planting trees in Africa — but this is not the same as not flying or driving in the first place.)

There are likely additional lessons, but those two stand out for me.

Your thoughts?