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President Wollman stresses innovation, collaboration as member of economic development summit panel


Edinboro University President Julie Wollman stressed the key role higher education plays in the Erie region’s economy as she participated in a panel of nationally recognized university presidents Monday, Oct. 28, at the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Summit in Pittsburgh.

“For the Erie region, higher education plays a key role in economic transformation,” President Wollman said after accepting an invitation to speak at the Summit. “We are in a rustbelt region that has relied on low-tech manufacturing and must transform itself.”

She and the other panelists – Mark A. Nordenberg, Ph.D., Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh; Subra Suresh, Ph.D., President of Carnegie Mellon University; and Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D., President of East Stroudsburg University – responded to a number of prepared questions as well as questions from the audience. The panel’s focus was Higher Education’s Role in Economic Transformation.

“Recognizing that economic transformation is essential, the leaders of the Erie region’s four universities – Edinboro, Gannon, Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend – have formed a collaborative effort,” Dr. Wollman said. “Collaboration is central to our efforts because we are truly trying to transform the vision for the region’s future and build capacity to create a vibrant future.

“We have laid out a vision for the future of the city and the region that is grounded in creativity and innovation and powered by entrepreneurship.

Among other points, President Wollman’s remarks during the panel discussion stressed:

-          The role of balance – in meeting workforce needs while building a future workforce for changing needs, as well as in preparing students in liberal arts while also helping them to find careers in which to apply those critical thinking and analytical skills.

-          The importance of supporting entrepreneurial efforts, such as through the StARTup Incubator, which Edinboro University collaborated in developing as a means of helping graduates of its nationally recognized arts programs to bring their work to market. It also is intended to provide all-important internship experiences for students in fields such as animation.

-          The close collaboration of Edinboro University with manufacturers in Erie and Meadville to design programs to prepare workers for advanced, technical and clean manufacturing, as well as developing collaborations with businesses and nonprofit organizations in other fields such as actuarial science, transportation and logistics.

-          The need for more agile public-private partnerships to meet quickly evolving workforce needs and ensure that opportunities are available for Edinboro graduates to remain in the region.

 The University Economic Development Association (UEDA) is a membership organization representing higher education, the private sector and community economic development stakeholders that works to expand economic opportunities. It has more than 140 member organizations throughout North America.