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Fethke Comments on Economic Impact

While higher education is being asked to perform more roles in the local economy, specific pathways for influencing local and regional economic transformation are still being identified. On October 30, 2006, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Midwest Higher Education Compact held a conference on higher education and economic growth. GARY FETHKE, University of Iowa, noted that the university only receives 15 percent of its budget from the state, and state money is increasingly being earmarked for particular programs, such as the life sciences. For Fethke, the key issue is whether the university would distribute its resources in the same way if it weren't forced to do so. The primary relationship of any university to the economy is through the production of skilled workers. In the University of Iowa's case, 60 percent of its resident liberal arts and business undergraduates are employed in Iowa after graduation. Even higher percentages of resident students with other majors, such as engineering, are employed instate after graduation. Fethke also pointed out that the university has a clear advantage in educating aspiring entrepreneurs, assisting in the commercialization of innovations, and evaluating public policies that can increase the competitiveness of the state. Read the entire article.

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