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Health Center Today, August 18, 2011

UConn and Connecticut’s Economic Future

By Michael Kirk

UConn is currently searching for an individual to serve as its vice president for economic development—who will lead, expand, and organize the University’s significant and fast-growing economic development efforts.

“More than ever before, public research universities are major drivers behind the economic health and well-being of their states,” says UConn President Susan Herbst. “UConn is already a powerful economic force in Connecticut, but there is a pressing need to do more and play an even greater role when it comes to job creation, workforce development, technology commercialization, and business incubation for the state.”

“It is vital that the University have a senior point person on this front specifically responsible for strategically overseeing and marshaling the many different resources and opportunities we can use to accomplish this. This individual will be charged with leading and integrating UConn’s economic development efforts. They will work closely with business, industry, and state government to ensure that the University is doing everything we can to create jobs and lay the groundwork for a vibrant economic future in Connecticut,” Herbst adds.

The state recently approved Gov. Malloy’s plan to create the Bioscience Connecticut initiative, to be based at the Health Center’s Farmington campus, which is expected to create thousands of jobs and make Connecticut a national leader in the bioscience field. The state also gave the green light to State Senate President Donald Williams’ proposal to build a Technology Park at the Storrs campus, which will also play an important role in further expanding and advancing the University’s existing economic development abilities, especially regarding technology incubation and commercialization.

The position will report directly to the President.

According to the search announcement, the new VP for economic development will:

  • Develop and implement long-range plans, near-term operating practices, and public policy initiatives to further entrepreneurship, industry collaboration, technology commercialization, and technology-based economic development at the University;
  • Identify specific gaps in University programs based on industry demands, and work with deans and administrators to develop, fund, and implement initiatives in response to demand including programs that build research expertise in areas of keen interest to industry;
  • Convene a standing campus-wide committee (Storrs and the UConn Health Center) responsible for identifying and addressing policy and programmatic issues impacting economic development; provide leadership to build strategic alliances with industry and state agencies targeted to facilities, research, workforce development, and service programs responsive to the economic development needs of the state;
  • Promote and coordinate the University’s role as a resource for economic development leading community engagement, communications, and marketing activities that demonstrate the University’s economic development contributions and attract industry collaboration and funding.

The position will also be responsible for University communication and collaboration with the governor’s economic development leadership team and key public officials engaged in economic issues; and provide programmatic leadership and direction for the University of Connecticut Technology Park and Bioscience Connecticut.