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2021 IEP Institutional Strategies Session Panel Summary

By: Abigail Robbins, Program Associate, Economic Development, Community Engagement, & Governmental Affairs

IEP Institutional Strategies Session

On January 14th, 2021, APLU’s Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement held the 2021 IEP Institutional Strategies Session. This annual session provides the membership with the opportunity to hear from representatives from previous Innovation and Economic Prosperity Award winners. The web panelists included leaders from the 2020 IEP Award-winning institutions: California State University- Northridge, Purdue University, Pittsburgh University, and Iowa State University.

The web panel was introduced by Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and moderated by Julie Lenzer, Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland and Vice-Chair for Economic Engagement for APLU’s Commission on Economic & Community Engagement. The panelists include Mary Beth Walker, Steve Abel, Lina Dostilio, and Rick Sanders.

Panelists discussed anecdotes from their institutions and shared strategies to better know, measure, and tell their economic impact to a variety of stakeholders. Speakers also presented lessons learned throughout the designation and award application processes. Each panelist shared salient strategies and advice to those pursuing the designation. Below are summaries of each panelist’s presentation.

Mary Beth Walker, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University, Northridge, a 2018 designee and 2020 Talent category winner, highlighted the ways CSUN has worked to improve academic achievement and close existing equity gaps between better served and traditionally underserved students. These include the Strength United program, BUILD PODER, and CSUN Connections. California State University, Northridge also invests in their institutional incubator and small business consulting. Walker emphasized the importance of using the IEP self-study process to identify high-impact practices that benefit universities and those they serve.

Rick Sanders, President of the Iowa State University Research Park at Iowa State University, a 2016 designee and 2020 Innovation category winner, illustrated the importance of investing in campus spaces to further spur university innovation, economic development, and foster community partnerships. The Iowa State University Research Park serves as ISU’s collaborative space for entrepreneurship, economic development, and the startup ecosystem. Innovate at Iowa State, CIRAS, Pappajohn Center, and the Iowa Go-to-Market Accelerator are among many of the programs that utilize the resources of the Iowa State University Research Park to increase economic development, tech transfer, as well as industry and community engagement. Sanders emphasized the importance of forging institutional partnerships with external partners across the state.

Lina Dostilio, Associate Vice Chancellor of Community Engagement at the University of Pittsburgh, a 2014 designee and 2020 Place category winner, described the importance of place engagement. Part of the University of Pittsburgh’s mission is to contribute to social, intellectual, and economic development through the strengthening of communities, such as the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Dostilio used their Homewood case study to illustrate the four main “ingredients” to create substantial programs focused on community outreach and economic development. These included an institutional strategy for connecting and coordinating the array of our engagement assets; institutional commitment to sustaining community-based work; commitment to specific places; and impact through partnerships. Using these ingredients, the University of Pittsburgh scaled many beneficial place-based initiatives. Some examples include the Community Engagement Center, Business of Humanity Project (BoH)’s Bioshelter, workforce development training which fosters mutually beneficial partnerships, projects, and outcomes.

Steve Abel, Associate Provost for Engagement at Purdue University, a 2014 designee and 2020 Connections category winner, described the process of fostering connections and increasing communication across the institution to effectively pursue the IEP designation and awards. Abel emphasized the importance of utilizing IEP tools such as the IEP New Metrics Field Guide and stakeholder surveys during the IEP designation process. On-campus, Purdue relied on pre-existing data from numerous advisory groups to formulate areas of growth and improvement. Abel also shared prominent lessons learned through the process such as identifying and capitalizing on areas of accomplishments, addressing areas of growth, and enhancing infrastructure accordingly. Abel highlighted numerous case studies including the Purdue Foundry, Center for Regional Development, and Office of Technology and Commercialization to illustrate the importance of collaborating and communicating impact more effectively to enhance regional discovery efforts and attract businesses.

While each panelist brought unique perspectives from their respective institution, the need for continuous reflection of institutional impact, growth, and improvement is crucial. The discussion and question portion covered COVID-19 adaptations and a range of additional issues. All panelists recognized the importance of collaboration and relationship building with internal and external partnerships in creating and sustaining impactful initiatives.

Inspired by what you’ve read here? Learn more about how to get engaged at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP and read more articles like this at www.aplu.org/iepblog. View the recording of the session here (access passcode wTdb0L$7).

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