Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Intertwined in Every Way"

One conversation I regularly have with policymakers concerns economic and community development. Often, they think economic development means patents, contracts with businesses, and spin-off technologies. It is that, but the real impact of higher education includes the graduates who are available to fill job openings and create new jobs through entrepreneurship, and in many areas of our state, the deep link between colleges and their communities.

Oberlin President Marvin Krislov was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education recently, and spoke about how the college and the town are “intertwined in every way” in a ten-minute podcast. Colleges are part of the fabric of their communities. They create a social climate that retains residents. They support their local school systems. Their students and staff support restaurants, shops, and bookstores. They make the arts real, instead of just what residents find with CDs, downloads, and pixels on-line.

His comments deserve a wider audience in Ohio, in part because that relationship is mirrored across the state: Ada, Springfield, Tiffin, Gambier, Alliance, Bexley, University Heights, and Westerville. The list goes on. These relationships are hiding in plain sight.

—C. Todd Jones