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University of Missouri System to create council focused on economic development across the state


Christian Basi

December 12, 2008
Citizens value role the university plays in job creation, health care support and training tomorrow's workforce

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - University of Missouri System officials today announced plans to establish a new Economic Development and Research Council in January to better leverage the research and innovation on its four campuses across the state and stimulate university and government private/public initiatives.

In addition, University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee announced that the university's campuses will host two statewide forums next year to address energy and the biological and life sciences. The Energy Summit, which will be chaired by Missouri University of Science and Technology Chancellor Jack Carney, will help establish an energy brand for Missouri by bringing together the expertise of Missouri's universities to address energy alternatives in the United States. The summit is scheduled for April 22 in Jefferson City and April 23 at the Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus in Columbia. The Biological and Life Sciences Summit will be held this fall in Kansas City and will be chaired by MU Chancellor Brady Deaton.

"We're committed to being part of the state's solution to today's tough financial environment," Forsee said. "We have talented faculty and researchers whoseexpertise could drive a stronger economy from one community to the next across our state. We need to innovate our way forward, and we're uniquely positioned to do so by providing career-advancing courses to people in Missouri jobs, educating our students and expanding opportunities for them when they graduate, teaching and providing world-class health care, and moving our research into the marketplace to create new, higher-paying jobs."

Forsee's announcement comes on the heels of a recently concluded poll that showed Missourians value the role of the University of Missouri in driving the state's economic growth and job creation, but are largely unaware of the university's economic impact on the state. The campuses also play a significant role in teaching health care professionals who then provide the delivery and affordability of health care through its graduates. In addition, the university's bioengineering programs help engage researchers and students in the creation of health care detection, monitoring and treatment equipment and related solutions, while its energy research is expanding the focus on alternative energy options.

"Our four campuses in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis infuse nearly $572 million in the state's economy from outside sources, including federal grants, private donations and out-of-state tuition," Forsee said. "This money ultimately creates almost $1.1 billion in economic activity and more than 13,000 jobs across Missouri."

Forsee added that the nearly 26,000 in-state employees of the system account for a direct return of $216 million in taxes to the state.

Research expenditures at all four University of Missouri campuses totaled $326 million in FY 07. Between 2004-2008, the university generated 98 U.S. patents, 108 signed licenses and options, and $25 million in gross licensing income.

The new Economic Development and Research Council will include the University of Missouri president, vice president of research and economic development, and general counsel, as well as chancellors, provosts and vice provosts for research at all four campuses. Invitations to serve as ex-officio members will be extended to the state's economic development director and the economic development directors from the four communities in which the university's campuses reside. The council's first charge will be to engage in strategic planning with the state and other foundations to develop a common set of standards, processes and evaluations, as well as a communication strategy for economic development within the state.

Forsee thanked the Kauffman Foundation for funding the survey which, he said, "was valuable in ferreting out the concerns and priorities among Missourians and government, civic and business leaders." Although half of citizens don't understand the value created by higher education, survey participants become more motivated to support the university when informed that Missouri ranks 47th out of 50 states in per capita spending on higher education.

"As Missouri's only land-grant, doctoral-granting research institution, the University of Missouri is an economic growth engine for the state," Forsee said. "The university elevated the role of economic development as part of its mission in 2004. Since then we have strengthened our focus on innovation-based economic growth by championing research at our four campuses and finding ways to market that research through public-private partnerships."

The survey was conducted among a random sample of 920 voters 30+ years of age throughout the state of Missouri. The margin of error associated with a sample of this type is ±3.3% at the 95 percent confidence level. The voter survey was conducted by telephone in September and was followed by 25 additional in-depth interviews with business and community leaders in October and November. The research was conducted by St. Louis-based Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. in conjunction with Communications for Research of Steelville, Mo.