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Campus News

Institutions discuss role in economic growth

By KERRY JONES WARING

Published October 25, 2013

“The importance of higher education as a purveyor of science and technology, and a driver of the knowledge-based economy is increasing everywhere.”
Former SUNY Chancellor D. Bruce Johnstone

Leaders from seven regional academic and economic development institutions took part in a panel discussion on Friday about the role of higher education in spurring new economic growth.

The Regional Summit on Higher Education and Economic Development, held at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center, featured an interactive session to discuss how academic institutions, through research-based innovation, technology transfer and other means, can help create new jobs and encourage the growth of industry.

Panelists included:

  • Howard Cohen, interim president, SUNY Buffalo State
  • Charles Edmondson, president, Alfred University
  • Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Virginia Schaefer Horvath, president, SUNY Fredonia
  • Jack Quinn, president, Erie Community College
  • UB President Satish K. Tripathi
  • Howard Zemsky, co-chair, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council

The event, moderated by Grove Potter, executive business editor of The Buffalo News, featured remarks from former SUNY Chancellor D. Bruce Johnstone and Jason E. Lane, deputy director for research at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Johnstone and Lane are co-authors of the new book “Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers.”

Johnstone said the role that higher education institutions play in economic development is complex and multifaceted, which is true both in Western New York and beyond.
 
“The importance of higher education as a purveyor of science and technology, and a driver of the knowledge-based economy is increasing everywhere,” said Johnstone, who is also a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in UB’s Graduate School of Education.

Higher education summit

D. Bruce Johnstone (at the podium) addresses the Regional Summit on Higher Education and Economic Development. Photo: John DellaContrada

“The emphasis of the public eye tends to be on universities as generators of patents and knowledge-based startups, á la Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle, and there’s much truth to that,” Johnstone said. “But my own feeling is that the connection between a regional economy and colleges and universities is much broader than that and extends to producing workers who are disciplined and knowledgeable, who are trainable on the job and have the foundational skills and work habits that constitute an increasingly productive workforce.”

The panel was made possible by the participating institutions and the Western New York Consortium of Higher Education, with support from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Similar events have been hosted across the state, with the goal of encouraging new collaborations that can lead to innovation-based economic development.