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MoreLIP: A Fresh Crop of Graduates Comes with Hope for Tomorrow

05/18/2009 — George Lipper, Development Capital Networks

I spent most of last week in Columbia, Missouri, witnessing the Mizzou graduation of a granddaughter.

It’s a challenge to put into words the very special sense of optimism, hope, and confidence in the future of our country that permeated the ceremony, even as we seek the means to deal with the threat of a centurial-level depression.

As I watched the hundreds of bright, shiny faces parade across the stage to accept plaudits for scholarly achievements over four-plus years of study, I was buoyed by their exuberance, ready to face the new challenge of building their careers. And that’s just from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; there are a dozen other Colleges and Schools on this huge campus. Booklets parceled out to attending family and friends suggest that the total number of the University of Missouri graduates was well north of four thousand.

Multiply that by the thousands of universities and colleges marking springtime commencements across the land and you can readily elevate today’s heap of worrisome feelings into one of awe and hope.

As I added my supportive shouts and cheers for Katie, I couldn’t help but think about our feature story in today’s Lipper Current newsletter, which details a widening consciousness among universities on their role as economic development institutions. Of the universities taking on this role is Arizona State University in the Phoenix metroplex.

No other university I’m aware of has put together a more comprehensive economic development plan -- addressing R&D, technology commercialization, business planning, capital creation, community coordination and mentoring -- written up by Science Progress as ‘Arizona’s Entrepreneurial Song’. More than simply another plan gathering dust of the shelf, ASU’s is already several years in execution with the apparent cooperation of usually competitive academic and other community organizations.

I’m anxious to see what impact ASU’s program has over the next decade. It’s off to an impressive start.

And higher education is the catalyst to our future. So, to Katie: you go, girl! And help us build that better future.