Higher education and economic development

The Winter 2014 edition of BizTucson is out and I encourage anyone interested in the future of our community to pick up a copy. This local business magazine does a great job in highlighting the stake all of us have in economic development.

As a member of the Chairman’s Circle of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, better known as TREO, I was interviewed by Biz Tucson for a special report, “Bold Strategies for a New Economy.” Two other educators were among those interviewed: Ann Weaver Hart, president of The University of Arizona, and Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. [To read all the interviews go to the “In the News” section of the Our Chancellor webpage.].

The most interesting element of the interviews is how they highlight the similarities of our institutions even though the schools we lead occupy different positions in the education pipeline.  Presidents Crow and Hart understand, as I do, that UA, ASU and PCC have critical roles to play in economic development by providing industries in the region with a capable workforce. As President Crow put it, we are major suppliers of the “human capital necessary for Arizona’s economic growth and prosperity.”

That’s one of the key points I made in an accompanying profile in the magazine. Community colleges are becoming the nation’s No. 1 workforce trainer, and as chancellor it is my job to ensure that students who leave PCC’s learning environment are ready for the earning environment – the world of meaningful work that brings with it prosperity and stability.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that BizTucson also recognized Keri Silvyn, partner in Lazarus, Silvyn & Bangs. Keri, wife of PCC general counsel Jeff Silvyn, is a member of TREO’s 2013-14 board of directors. Keri’s vision for economic development, one that includes a diverse business community friendly to all types of jobs, is a worthy one that if realized would profoundly transform our community and lead to a more responsible citizenry, committed to the ideals of our great nation.

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