Winter 2003 Journal: Higher Ed and Business Looking for the Right Fit

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Winter 2003
For more information, contact:
John O. Harney, Executive Editor, Connection


New England Board of Higher Education Journal Connection Explores Collaboration BetweenBusiness and Higher Education

William M. Bulger on Why Higher Education Is Not Just about the Economy

Point/Counterpoint: The High-Stakes Debate Over High-Stakes Testing

BOSTONNew England’s “innovation economy” will depend increasingly on how well colleges andbusiness work together, according to economists, college presidents and executives writing in the Winter 2003issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education.

Already, colleges across New England are teaming up with business to prepare students for real-world jobs,entering into agreements with business to commercialize faculty research and contracting out their strategicexpertise. Businesses, in turn, are providing scholarships and internships, funding university research programs(to the tune of more than $170 million annually in New England) and giving their execs time off to teach oncampus, according to the Connection articles.

Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe) — andAmerica’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.

The Winter 2003 issue also features: University of Massachusetts President William M. Bulger on highereducation and democracy, nebhe President Robert A. Weygand’s call to consolidate state education and workforceagencies and a lively point-counterpoint on the impact of the high-stakes MCAS test.

Following is a summary of articles in the Winter 2003 issue of Connection:

A Secretariat for Education and Workforce Development — nebhe President Robert A. Weygandcalls on New England’s governors to create a single cabinet-level secretariat in each of their states to directeducation, workforce and economic development policy. “The respective departments of education and economicdevelopment must work together not just at a few meetings per year, but all the time,” notes Weygand, adding,”This consolidated authority would hold the responsible agencies’ feet to the fire, and enjoy the full attentionand support of the governor.”

Higher Education Gets Down to Business: A Growing Array of Partnerships between Campuses andCorporations Bring Mutual Benefits … and Risks — In Vermont, dozens of college students gain real-worldexperience in customer service at a Putnam Investments facility on the campus of Champlain College. Rensselaerat Hartford provides customized, degree programs to employees of MassMutual Financial Group at their workplace.The Legal Seafoods restaurant chain and Marriott Corp. have a hand in curriculum planning at Johnson & WalesUniversity. Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical firm, is building state-of-the-art research labs on the campus ofEmmanuel College. Babson College MBA students earn academic credit while they provide consulting expertise tostart-up businesses. Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney and Boston University journalismstudent Lynn Doan explain that the new collaborations promise opportunity . . . and risks as well.

A Call to Action on New England’s Innovation Economy: Will Business and Higher Education Answer ThisTime? — New York and California are investing big bucks in university scientific research programs andpromoting cooperation between industry and higher education. In contrast, “the relationship between business andhigher education in New England has been proper and polite” and “there has been little history of targetedpublic investments in science,” writes William Guenther, president of the Massachusetts think tank MassInsight. Guenther calls on New England’s leaders to place higher education and technology research at the coreof their economic development strategies. Guenther says the governors should start by assembling academic andprivate-sector leaders to assess shared needs and strategic opportunities, not as “a one-shot summit” but as anongoing part of state economic development operations.

Work Smarts, Life Smarts: How Education’s Societal Mission and Business’s Human Resource Needs AreConverging — Higher education will feel extraordinary pressure to align its offerings with the demands ofemployers, write Educational Testing Service economists Anthony P. Carnevale and Donna M.Desrochers. “The challenge for higher education is to balance its charter to provide a well-roundededucation while continuing to prepare the nation’s workforce.” The economists note that “the interests ofbusiness and educators are not all that different.” Teaching critical thinking skills, general reasoningabilities and social skills, the authors note, are important components of work and life alike.

The Public’s Business: 140 Years after the Morrill Act, New England’s Land Grants Are CrucialBusiness Partners … But Could They Be More? — Nearly a century and a half after Vermont CongressmanJustin Morrill pushed legislation to create the nation’s Land Grants colleges, the big public universitiescontinue to provide major stimuli to state and regional economies. Freelance writer Alan R. Earlsexplores how Land Grants have changed along with the economy, now addressing issues from sustainable forestry tobioterrorism. Now, many economic development pros are talking about new legislation to outfit Land Grants fortomorrow.

Community Colleges Mean Business … But What Does Business Mean? — Whenever a manufacturermoves out of New England, the task of retraining dislocated workers falls to the region’s community colleges.Tunxis Community College President Cathryn L. Addy and Director of Institutional Research William F.Ritchie urge businesses to look to community colleges as partners in good times and bad. “Community collegeenrollment goes up when the economy is weak, which places demands on us when we are least able to meet them,”the authors write. “We need to get over the idea that education and training are needed only in times ofupheaval or economic crisis.” Among other reforms, the authors call on community colleges to put less emphasison whether a program is credit or non-credit.

Perspectives: Antioch University’s James Craiglow and the University System of New Hampshire’sStephen Reno on Business and Higher Education — What does business want from higher education? What doeshigher education what from business? Freelance writer Cherryl Jensen puts those and other questions tothe CEOs of two distinctly different higher education systems.

Building a Pipeline: One Company’s Holistic Approach to College Relations — Many of America’s76 million baby boomers will exit the workforce over the next two decades. Joseph Pratt, director ofcollege relations at Fidelity Investments’ Smithfield, R.I., site, explains how the financial service company’smulti-pronged College Relations Program keeps campus connections vibrant even in a down economy.

Internships Now! — The U.S. Labor Department estimates that it costs companies one-third of anew hire’s salary to replace an employee. And then the new employee may not even be a good fit. SilverLightProductions President Mandie Sullivan explains how internship programs can help employers find the rightemployeesÑand save money. So, asks the Rhode Island businesswoman, why are businesses scaling back oninternships just when they would seem to need them most?

Conflicting Views — Ask business leaders and college deans how to improve higher education, and you are sure to get verydifferent answers. In fact, ask them anything, and you will probably get different answers. That’s just whatVillanova University Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs John Immerwahr found out a few yearsago when he surveyed business, government and academic leaders about pressing higher education issues for theNational Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Connection offers a scorecard of business andacademic attitudes toward higher education.

It’s Not Just the Economy: Higher Education Can Also End the Recession in Our Democracy — Acollege education may add thousands of dollars to an individual’s annual earnings but higher education is aboutmuch more than the economic success, writes University of Massachusetts President William M. Bulger. “Theworld is filled with baffled workers, both affluent and poor, who seek some meaning in their lives beyond theirjobs,” writes Bulger. “It is the humanities that provide the ennobling grace that is essential to our lives.”Noting that less than 30 percent of the electorate voted in last fall’s Massachusetts primary, Bulger writes:”It is the liberal arts that will provide the knowledge and inspiration that will create leaders who can inspirepeople to participate in the life of their nation and community — not just wave the flag, but vote and serve the publicgood. It is the liberal arts that will help us deal with attacks by foreign foes in a principled manner,devise reasonable protections against those attacks while preserving the Constitution, and create a newgeneration of corporate and civic leaders with the courage and talent to seek out the right things rather thanthe easy things or the most personally profitable things.”

High Stakes Testing: Point-Counterpoint — In June 2003, Massachusetts will become the firststate in New England to make high school graduation contingent upon passing an examÑthe much-talked about MCAS.Christina Perez of Cambridge, Mass.-based FairTest says the Massachusetts Graduation Test RaisesBarriers, Not Standards. FairTest contends that the high-stakes MCAS exam will deny thousands of studentsaccess to college, including large numbers of African-American and Latino seniors, who would have otherwise beenaccepted to college. Massachusetts state board of education member Abigail Thernstrom counters that while75 percent of African-Americans and 70 percent of Hispanics go on to postsecondary education, many arrive withjunior high skills. She says MCAS results will shed needed light on the seriousness of this problem and asksWill We Hear the Message … Or Shoot the Messenger?

Part Church, Part Car Dealer — Williams College economics Professor Gordon Winstonexplains the economics of higher education financing É in plain English. “The price the student-customer paysfor his or her education is strikingly less than the cost of its production,” writes Winston. “It cost $12,400 ayear to educate a student at the average U.S. college in 1995-96. But he or she paid a price of $4,000. So eachstudent got a subsidy of $8,400 a year on average. It’s as if the Taurus that cost your Ford dealer $20,000 toput on the showroom floor were sold for less than $7,000.”


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