WSU aims to help drive region’s economic prosperity

The Wright State Regional Summit on “Driving Prosperity” asked its 160 participants to discuss future opportunities to create jobs in the region, how higher education can take advantage of those opportunities and what barriers stand in the way. The summit was created in 2007 by WSU President David Hopkins as a way to learn how Wright State can work with regional leaders to make the area more prosperous.

“The themes that came out of the very first one we did six years ago where that higher education needs to be more engaged. Great you’re producing talent and graduates, but that’s just not all you can do. For institutions like Wright State, they said we need you to be out there helping us solve real problems,” Hopkins said.

“I think it’s really, really important that we continue these conversations about the region. It’s important that we have this continuity and that we demonstrate that what we said we were going to do, we’ve done,” he said.

Business leaders shared how they benefit from hiring Wright State graduates, how their businesses impact the region and how they work with the university.

They offered also advice to help Wright State achieve its goal of being an entrepreneurial university and of helping the region be not just a place where inventions take place, but where they are made. Christine Wallace, president and CEO of Cambium Technologies in Dayton, said the university needs a process map to help businesses collaborate with faculty and students, to know who the players are and find “the path to yes.” And Marvin Lefeld, chief financial officer of Cooper Farms in St. Henry, said the university should promote ethics and integrity, teach the art of negotiation and compromise, help students develop respect-based communication skills and incorporate logical and critical thinking skills.

The university will gather the input from roundtable discussions held during the summit and incorporate it into the strategic planning process. The comments will also be available on Wright State’s website on the regional summit in the coming days.

“Coming out of today, what we’ll get are new ideas. We’ll find out what are the barriers. The information we gather today will feed right into how we develop our strategic plan,” Hopkins said.

“There’s so much we can achieve and so much we’ve already achieved because we do work together. And that’s going to be the secret to the success of this region,” Hopkins said. “The best is yet to come for this region. It’s not behind us. It’s ahead of us.”

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