By Diane Tinker Hurst, Program Manager/Graduate Student at Wichita State University and Tonya Witherspoon, Associate Vice President, Industry Engagement and Applied Learning at Wichita State University
This article is included as part of APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation Perspectives Blog. Read other articles around strategies, programs, and impact of APLU’s IEP designees at www.APLU.org/IEPBlog.
Kansas weather at the end of February is can be dicey at best: it can be snowy, stormy, or sunny—and sometimes all three in the span of 24 hours! But February 26-28, 2020 wasn’t snowy or stormy, and Wichita State University was proud to welcome 39 campus leaders who were spearheading their institution’s IEP process for APLU’s first campus-hosted Innovation and Economic Prosperity Cohort Workshop.
Wichita State University volunteered to host this first-of-its-kind conference in order to facilitate and encourage a community of practice among the many and varied institutions participating in APLU’s IEP Universities program.
The conference was designed by IEP cohort members and APLU IEP staff to help participating institutions work through the application processes but, more importantly, maximize the value and strategy enhancements stemming from the IEP self-study experience.
Working sessions were focused on “know, measure, tell, and grow and improve”—the key strategy focus points of the economic engagement framework as well as the “talent, innovation, and place” facets of economic engagement. The detailed agenda and speaker list can be found here.
Attendees had numerous opportunities to connect before, during, and after the day’s sessions had concluded, whether it was during dinner at the Ulrich Museum of Art on Wednesday night, or enjoying a taco on Thursday before the Wichita State men’s basketball game against Temple University.
The highlight of the conference came from the sharing of best practices between universities and the importance of the self-study process itself, which Wichita State values just as highly as obtaining the designation itself.
Key takeaways from the conference were not only the benefit of networking with other colleagues and universities pursuing the IEP designation, but also the differing perspectives of what talent, innovation and place mean to other public universities and colleges, and the great work that is being done across the country. In addition, the working sessions provided time to start fleshing out the application with other universities.
The conference also gave Wichita State the opportunity to illuminate the IEP process for faculty, students, and the Wichita community. For faculty, how WSU is part of a wide-ranging community doing work in economic and community development; for students, how the achievements and opportunities that have come to light through the IEP process directly benefits their educational experience; and for members of the Wichita community, why what WSU is doing through the IEP process is so important as well as the role the University plays in economic engagement.
The IEP designation process helps universities to see what they are doing right and what they can do better to best serve their local, regional, and national communities, and the IEP cohort conference helped attendees to focus in on those issues.
Students from Wichita State University’s Shocker Studios recorded brief interviews of attendees to illustrate the strengths of the IEP process and the community of practice that underpins it. We hope these inspire current and future IEP designees to continue to embrace the full extent of their institution’s economic and community development mission. WSU looks forward to completing its IEP process and earning the designation alongside our cohort members.
• Michael Garcia, University of Texas at El Paso
• Matt Grattan, University at Albany
• Shalin Jyotishi, APLU
• Jeanine Mingé, University of North Carolina-Wilmington
• Rebecca Robinson, Kansas State University
• John Rolfe, Kansas Leadership Center
• Andy Stoll, Kauffman Foundation
• Brandon Whipple, Wichita, KS
Diane Tinker Hurst is Program Manager and a graduate student at Wichita State University and Tonya Witherspoon is Associate Vice President and Industry Engagement and Applied Learning at Wichita State University.
Inspired by what you’ve read here? APLU is now seeking presidents and chancellors to submit their letters of intent to engage their institution in APLU’s IEP Universities designation program. Intent letters are due by October 30. Learn more about how to get engaged at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP.