Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

Sean Creighton
by Sean Creighton
Thu Jan 7th 2010 at 5:23pm UTC

Campus Builds Capacity to Absorb Its Own Innovation

Thursday, January 7th, 2010


In University and the Creative Economy, Richard Florida and colleagues build an economic development case around a region’s ability to capitalize on innovative technologies and research being produced at universities. Silicon Valley and Research Triangle are exemplary models. What if a region does not have this ability? Appropriately, they suggest a region work on developing the capacity to absorb university output through campus-industry partnerships. Otherwise, valuable intellectual property goes elsewhere. Or, worse off, and probably more common, it disappears into a black hole of uncommercialized ideas and patents.

Now, for regions that have universities but neither the current ability to absorb, nor the means to create a working capacity, is there an additional solution? Is it time for the universities to build their own infrastructure to absorb and commercialize their own creativity? Maybe this is the crossroads where higher education and economic development policy can tango?

How about new policies that substantially invest in universities absorbing their own innovative output when a region is not equipped? Incentivize the universities to transform economy by building infrastructure to commercialize the talent and academic ingenuity they harness. Maybe University Hospitals is a viable model in health care, but expand into other industry development aligned with a university’s output. Maybe we can learn from Chinese university-run businesses. Let’s equip universities, as my grandma used to say, with the whole “kit and caboodle” so a region can benefit.

What’s the risk in doing so?

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

Campus As Economic Engine

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Rusty wheel

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!

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

Does Higher Ed Benefit In a Recession?

Monday, December 14th, 2009


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?

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

Mighty Edu

Thursday, December 10th, 2009


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?

David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Nov 12th 2008 at 9:53am UTC

Higher Ed: Next Bloated Industry to Go?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

We are witnessing major industries in the U.S. undergo massive transformations; financial services will be refashioned and refocus, while the auto industry will radically scale down and transmogrify in an attempt to survive.

I recently came across a post at Newmark’s Door referring to the forthcoming hollowing out of higher education in America – the bursting of a bubble a la real estate and oil. Craig Newmark offers up some interesting articles on the state of higher ed in America.

One piece, the Coming College Bubble, at, sees consolidation on the horizon with many independent colleges choosing between shutting down, merging, or being acquired. The article looks at the decision of 157-year-old Antioch College to shut down its flagship campus.

Another article, Planning for Contraction, comes from the Inside Higher Ed and is a sobering commentary for the post-secondary education industry. It’s been a great run and it is over was the basic tone of the article.

I don’t know the history of the higher ed boom directly, but most of the campuses I have visited over the last 20 years have been great places; from Tallahassee Community College & UW-Tacoma to UT-Austin & DePaul University. Campuses today are fresh, technically advanced, and filled with intelligent, diverse communities. Universities and colleges are concentrated havens of talent, knowledge, liberty, and opportunity.

They’re so inviting that I have been engaged in higher ed – at least part-time – for 14 of the last 18 years. Hopefully higher ed leaders can conserve all of the improvements and manage the lean years to come. If you are an administrator, find yourself a Joseph to manage what’s to come.

The challenge, of course, is that the needs and composition of students, industry, and state are constantly changing. Federal, State, and Local funding will all be decreasing in the years ahead. So doing the same thing (like GM or Ford) won’t get the weaker colleges and universities through what is ahead.

The articles painted a pretty bleak future for higher ed in America and, given the central role that higher education plays in American socio-economic life, the rough road ahead could have a devastating multiplier effect on the U.S. economy. (Same argument used by Wall Street for a bailout, same argument Detroit is now wielding, right?)

With those two articles on my mind, I came upon an op-ed by Arthur Levine, Higher Education in the Age of Obama. I assumed there would be some hope for me in this article. Didn’t happen.

Levine was sobering for a purely political reason; the piece argues that higher education is likely to be a very low priority for the incoming administration. The reality of demographics have pushed higher ed down the list of national priorities. From Levine’s piece:

A number of pressures will now require the new president to rethink this array of important proposals because he won’t have the resources to carry out this agenda. First, discretionary dollars will be eaten up by the $800 billion bailout, additional federal funding for economic relief, the continuing cost of the Iraq war, and declines in tax revenues.

Second, support for education has diminished as a priority for the American people. During the 2000 presidential election, Americans ranked education either first or second among the nation’s priorities. In 2004, it fell to fifth. In 2008, it dropped off the priority list.

Third, the primary citizen advocates for increased education funding have shifted their focus to health care. Baby Boomers, who constituted more than half of the electorate until this election, single-handedly made education a priority because they wanted good schools for their children. Today, with most of their kids graduated or largely through school, Boomers are now focused on aging and frail parents, who are absorbing an increasing share of their time and resources.

The sheer size of the Baby Boom generation ensures that every politician running for any office, from dogcatcher to president of the United States, quickly develops a platform that emphasizes Boomers’ interests. As a result, elder care, health insurance and Social Security have become the new priority — and will likely continue to overshadow education in the years ahead., since the first Boomers reached retirement age this year.

Clearly not all institutions will be affected in the same way by all of the above, but it does sound like an industry facing some huge shakeups or, should I say, opportunities. The whole baby boomer thing means smart universities/colleges will figure out a way to win advocates (and customers) among baby boomers in their communities (both physical and virtual – there are far more boomers on Facebook than you think). There also might be “retire/live/learn” options for boomers that colleges and universities can offer in order to “fill space” in the future?

There are also opportunities in those dying brands of independent colleges like Antioch College. We recently heard that the Christian Science Monitor and U.S. New & World Report are going virtual. Universities are in many ways content providers (higher value maybe) just like media outlets and therefore can retain value in new forms. Clearly there are opportunities to transfer portions of their brands/content/experience/value to the online space. I mean, if someone is going to attend University of Phoenix online they would be likely to attend Antioch College online, wouldn’t they?

Like so many of our great industries and social sectors, higher education has grown huge, bureaucratic, and in many cases bloated (think 24-hour coffee shops in dorms). The ongoing trends of globalization, technology, and innovation continue to pressure societies and economies and America’s world leading system of higher education is going to have to respond just like other great institutions. There will not be enough ‘bailout’ money for everyone getting in line.

The campus as a vibrant market has always been one of the reasons that campus entrepreneurs exist. As our system of higher education undergoes these massive transformations, entrepreneurs of all sorts will push the change with new models, services, and firms. The best will reap incredible rewards.

David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Sep 10th 2008 at 10:02am UTC

Diversity on Campus: Theory v Reality

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

One of the reasons that we are investigating the campus as an entrepreneurial environment is that in its most ideal form there is huge diversity on campus (i.e., age, race, field of study, nationality, political viewpoints, personal preferences, socio-economic background, etc). This diversity is believed to bring many advantages.

The social and economic benefits of diversity are discussed at length in Richard’s writing and others – I am partial to Jane Jacobs’ ideas in The Economy of Cities.

WSJ writer Hannah Karp’s story, From Bloomingdales to Bloomington, tells of a new diversity at Indiana University’s main Bloomington campus where a large influx of students from the Northeast is changing life on campus. From the story:

In Indiana University’s Assembly Hall last Friday, a remarkably large chorus hailing from private high schools in the Northeast was singing the school’s ode to the “Cream and Crimson” in a pronounced New York accent.

It’s a striking byproduct of one of the most competitive college admissions sessions ever — an influx of East Coast prep-school students in Indiana. Indiana University welcomed about 260 students from the greater New York City area to the limestone lecture halls on its lush, leafy campus last week, up 12.5% from last year. Another 175 came from New Jersey, up 25% from 2007, and 50 hail from Connecticut. While the numbers of students matriculating from in-state and other parts of the country are steadily increasing as well — the school had some 500 more students accept admission offers than it had planned for — the last three years have been marked by unprecedented growth from the Northeast.

The droves of East Coast students descending on Bloomington are ruffling some feathers among the 61% of students who call Indiana home.

Upperclassmen say the tension begins to build from day one of freshman year, as most East Coasters request to live in the same cluster of dorms and send in housing deposits to guarantee their spots long before committing to the school. Jess Berne, a freshman from New York’s suburban Westchester County who had also applied to Penn State and the University of Wisconsin, sent in her housing deposit to Indiana as soon as she was admitted in October, at the school’s recommendation, eight months before she decided to actually enroll. She also requested to room with a fellow New Yorker, Becky Davies, whom she met on Facebook.

The story is interesting/funny (a father of a NY student thinks something is not quite right in Bloomington because people are so friendly) and anecdotal, but leads one to wonder whether diversity works ‘positively’ with open, accepting minds leading the way new understanding and ideas? Or does diversity work because of ‘friction’ and new outputs are the result of worlds colliding?

Are these ‘new imigrants’ to Bloomington having the same effect on campus as Eastern Europeans or Latin Americans have on US cities when they arrive in large numbers? Any thoughts?