The DeHavilland Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Presenting education to business

The National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions (NASSMC) identifies articles of interest regarding education (normally focused on science and math, of course) and forwards links and summaries to its list (visit the site – – for a free subscription). I'd like to share a recent brief in its entirety:

News Brief #3247
Category: Postsecondary Education
TITLE: "Stirring the Local Economy Into the Mix"

As public dollars for higher education dwindle, more institutions are
trying to prove their worth by issuing studies measuring their economic
contributions. The University System of Georgia recently issued a report
concluding that its campuses contribute nearly $10 billion a year to the state
economy. A study from the University of Texas valued its contributions to the
state at $12.8 billion.

California State University is taking a more proactive approach, asking
regional business leaders for their input, as well as their support. The
university system is holding a series of forums for industry leaders as part of
what they call an "impact tour."

At one such forum in Pomona, business leaders dined on a three-course meal
prepared by students at the university's Collins School of Hospitality
Management. Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed told the 110 attendees that the
system enrolls more than 400,000 students a year, more than half of whom are
from minority groups. Cal State, he said, produces the majority of the state's
graduates in teacher education, tourism and natural resources.

After lunch, business leaders were invited to offer suggestions on how Cal
State can better prepare students for jobs in local industries. Among the areas
of student preparation identified as shortfalls at this and other forums are
proficiency with the latest technologies, writing and critical-thinking skills,
and the ability to work in teams.

SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education, 02 September 2005 (p. A33)
The NASSMC Briefing Service (NBS) is supported by the National Security
Agency (NSA) and ExxonMobil Foundation. Briefs reflect only the opinions,
findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the source articles.
Click to SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT, or FIND archived NBS briefs.
Click for information about NASSMC. Permission is granted
to re-distribute NBS briefs in unmodified form, including header and

I have not read the article being summarized (CHE is a paid site), but the brief provided by NASSMC offers plenty to chew on for anyone interested in business-education partnerships.

My first question: what could this type of activity do to nurture the relationship between Cal State and the businesses it courts? These businesses get better insight into the importance of the university system, have the opportunity to develop face-to-face relationships with representatives from the university, and best of all, are given a forum to showcase their needs from the university system (and, I would assume, the promise of action).

What happens when the university later asks the business community for donations, sponsorships, internship opportunities, guest presenters, and the like? It’s a much easier “ask” once there’s a relationship in place, I would imagine. And are these businesses more inclined to recruit at the university? And when recruiting, consider Cal State grads in a more positive light? The answer is certainly “yes” to both questions.

My next question: why couldn’t K-12 schools or districts do this exact same thing?

(Paying for events like this, by the way, should not be a deterrent. Costs could be covered by the local education foundation, or perhaps by a business already committed to education – they wouldn’t have to be covered by the schools themselves.)

Imagine the opportunity to highlight the importance of public education to the community. These are, after all, our own kids. They make up an important portion of the labor pool, both in the immediate and in the long term (I don’t have statistics at hand, but I believe that a fair percentage of people choose to live in the communities in which they grew up). Local business should certainly have an interest in them.

Following Cal State’s lead, you educate business about the importance of education. You develop direct relationships with local business leaders. You provide them with a forum to share their concerns and identify top issues, and promise to address them (ideally with an active role identified for those businesses).

What do you think would happen? Would businesses be more forthcoming with resources? Would they be more inclined to provide volunteers, internship opportunities and the like? Would they be more inclined to support bond initiatives and find other ways to support schools?

Is anyone doing this at the K-12 level, and if so, what have been the results? I’d love to hear about it.


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