Monday, September 26, 2005

The Role of Higher Education in Economic Development

In the second week in October I will be a participant in a celebration of 25 years of a university in Mexico City called Universidad Anáhuac del Sur. I have been working with the university for a bit more than a decade. I first became acquainted with UAS on a couple of very early projects in Mexico. I taught there for seven years in a school of business that is rated as one of Latin America's best. I helped to organize three international conferences at the university.

The university is part of a larger network of universities in Mexico, Spain, Rome and Chile and now the US. Their motto is “Vince in Bono Malum” - Vanquish evil with good. They are a Catholic university with a good set of values. They encourage an entrepreneurial spirit among their students.

My topic for my presentation is the university role in economic development - how does a university involve itself in building the economy of its area? What are the appropriate roles in terms of knowledge expansion, venture capital relationships, incubator projects and broader societal relationships?

The dean of the school of business is a young man. He has built a fine program. I am looking forward to being a participant in the celebration. As luck would have it, the Economist did one of their periodic surveys - those projects are long and thoughtful treatments of an important issue relating to what the magazine cares about - in this case the survey was on higher education. I will write more about this subject soon - but for now the conclusion was that the American "system" of higher education consistently beats the European one for one reason - it is not really a system. Mexico is beginning to grow and expand its higher education programs - in both the public and private sector. I have also worked with a public university in Aguascalientes that is the first of a series of polytechnic universities across the country. The trip to Mexico City is one I really look forward to - but first I will have to go to Nashville and Mexicali.

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