Thursday, March 12, 2009

Regional economics, Lorax leaders, and postsecondary goals

The Chamber of Commerce task force on postsecondary education identified "weak links between postsecondary education and state and regional economic development" as a challenge, saying:
Kentucky cannot reach the 2020 goals on education attainment only by getting more students through the education pipeline to degrees. Kentucky must create stronger links between postsecondary institutions and economic development to create new jobs that attract and retain college-educated residents. Achieving this will require:
• A stronger partnership between the CPE and the Cabinet for Economic Development.
• Greater efforts to link the developing research capacity at UK and U of L to efforts to develop new jobs in all regions of Kentucky.
• Focusing the goal and mission of the comprehensive universities on the role of regional stewardship.
• Increased access through university centers to postsecondary opportunities at the bachelor’s degree and professional levels in regions distant from a public four-year institution.
In the Seuss book, the Lorax appears and announces "I speak for the trees." This part of the agenda needs champions who appear like that. Not just people who care about development or education, but people who insist on discussion and action that links them together. We need several of them in each major region of the state. We can't create Loraxes by appointing them to CPE or university boards or Chamber panels: we need to spot them already doing the work, and then invite them to do it better by working through all those groups.

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