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News & Media

Webinar Summary: Lessons Learned from APLU’s first non-member Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Designee

August 10, 2020

By Abigail Robbins, Innovation and Economic Prosperity and Governmental Affairs Associate

James McCafferty WWU

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.

On Wednesday, June 17th, the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) hosted a webinar focused on lessons the Western Washington University (WWU) gleaned from its IEP designation process. In 2019, WWU became the very first non-member to earn APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation.

The webinar was moderated by UEDA Executive Director Tim Hindes and featured James McCafferty, Director of WWU's Center for Economic and Business Research, who co-led the institution through the IEP designation process. 

McCafferty illustrated WWU’s IEP designation process spanning a full year. Like many IEP leaders, McCafferty identified three important factors which helped secure the needed institutional buy-in and institutional-level accountability needed to finish the designation application within a year. 

These factors were: 

  1. Support from campus leadership
  2. Establishing a cross-functional IEP steering committee, and; 
  3. Hiring a graduate assistant to provide administrative and logistical support in maintaining internal and external deadlines.

McCafferty emphasized the importance of the economic impact study (See Economic Engagement Framework publications) throughout his presentation noting its pivotal role in ensuring campus leaders were invested in the IEP process. He noted that the economic impact study in particular was helpful to many stakeholders across disciplines. 

McCafferty also contextualized the utility and outcomes of the IEP designation process in the COVID-19 context (see Forbes feature of IEP impact in the COVID-19). Despite remote instruction and the inability to convene physically, WWU was still successful pushing forward plans to enact its growth and improvement plan for economic development and community engagement. The IEP self-study was still noted to be  integral to WWU’s ability to better “know, measure, tell, and enhance their economic engagement enterprise.

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. Non-members and members are welcome to pursue the IEP designation. Learn more about how to get engaged at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP.

  • IEP

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