Over the past year, the IU Office of Engagement has become increasingly involved in economic development-focused initiatives of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). I am fortunate to have been appointed to serve on APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP). CICEP is focused on: 1) understanding and defining the expanding university role in local and regional innovation; 2) expanding the tools and metrics for universities to measure and explain their role to a wide range of audiences; and 3) gaining a better understanding of the innovation ecologies in which public institutions operate.
This group has developed an internal self-assessment tool that institutions can use to evaluate their particular engagement attributes and activities in regional economic development. These include traits relating to cultural aspects of public universities and those focused on structural elements, the existence of specific positions, programs or offices to facilitate increased partnerships with the external community.
The Office of Engagement implemented use of the tool to augment our strategic planning activities, assessing our role in facilitating regional economic development and engagement at IU and across the state of Indiana. We developed a unique reporting format to summarize the results of the internal assessment and provided this along with feedback to APLU, enabling IU to become one of the first members to implement the tool in this detailed manner. As a result, I recently had the opportunity to present how IU applied the tool in this manner at APLU’s annual meeting in Dallas.
We recognize the value of this assessment process and are in the process of extending use of the tool across IU’s regional campuses through the IU Council on Regional Engagement and Economic Development (CREED).