IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar is committed to economic development in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. His commitment will be cemented even further in 2018-19 as he serves as president of the board of governors of The Economic Club of Indiana.
The first event of The Economic Club of Indiana’s 2018-19 luncheon series will be Friday, Sept. 21. The scheduled speaker is Tom Bell, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America.
Paydar was kind enough to answer questions about The Economic Club of Indiana, IUPUI’s leadership in economic development activity and future opportunities for growth.
Question: When did you begin serving with The Economic Club of Indiana? How have the organization and its mission evolved and grown?
Nasser Paydar: I have attended Economic Club meetings for many years and have been impressed with the speakers and with the opportunity to network with key leaders in the Indianapolis community. In 2017-18, I was appointed to the board of governors as vice president, and now I have the honor of serving as president of the board during the 2018-19 year, which coincides with IUPUI’s 50th-anniversary year.
The evolution of the Economic Club truly reflects the changes in the city of Indianapolis as well as in the country more broadly in terms of leadership, technology, industry, higher education and many other areas. Originally established in 1974 to “enlighten its membership on important governmental, economic and social issues,” the club continues to achieve that goal, drawing speakers with national and international reputations who value the opportunity to address a significant Midwest audience.
Q: What are your responsibilities as president of the board of governors of The Economic Club of Indiana?
NP: As president of the board of governors, I convene the board and coordinate our activities, including shaping our strategic direction, identifying and managing a number of subcommittees, identifying our key goals, and outlining the tactics we will use to achieve those goals. I also host Economic Club luncheons, introducing speakers and interviewing them.
Q: What would you like The Economic Club of Indiana to achieve during your tenure as president of the board of governors?
NP: As in previous years, our main goal will be to engage the community and facilitate thought-provoking discussion about ways we can work together to move the city forward. We do this by providing a forum for thought leaders from Indiana, across the nation and around the world such as past speakers George H.W. Bush, David Brooks and Gwen Ifill, and later this week Rolls-Royce CEO Tom Bell. In addition, we will be looking for ways to encourage participation in Economic Club activities, especially among younger generations.
Q: Why is it important that IUPUI have a strong role in economic development in Indianapolis?
NP: The IUPUI story has always been inextricably linked with the story of the city of Indianapolis. Our campus was founded in 1969 as a direct result of city and state leaders who identified the need for a great university in the capital city where Hoosiers could be educated and then remain after graduation to support workforce development as well as the civic institutions that require an educated populace.
IUPUI contributes to this city every day with some 30,000 students every year: 22,000 undergraduates and 8,000 graduate and professional students.
We contribute by graduating 7,000 students every year and placing them in jobs that support the Indianapolis economy. Ninety percent of those graduates stay in the state of Indiana, and 60 percent stay in the city of Indianapolis to live, work and raise their families.
Our payroll last year amounted to nearly $830 million, and those salaries and wages go to more than 8,000 Hoosiers living in and around Indianapolis.
Within one mile of our campus, more research is conducted than at any comparable zone within the state of Indiana, translating theory into practice every single day.
Economic development is also an important part of our story. IUPUI’s success in attracting and retaining talent depends on the quality of life and economic vitality of Central Indiana and the city of Indianapolis. With 30,000 students, more than 8,000 full-time faculty and staff, and a budget of $1.4 billion, IUPUI is an anchor institution in the city and a driver of innovation in research and education. In addition to this massive research and educational enterprise, we bring the knowledge and skills to build partnerships across sectors that reinforce economic development as well as providing access to affordable education that transforms lives for the better.
Q: How has IUPUI shown its leadership and expertise in economic development in Indiana?
NP: IUPUI takes a number of different approaches to providing leadership and expertise in economic development in Indiana. I have already mentioned our 7,000 graduates, but I will add that all told, more than 182,000 students have graduated from IUPUI. Taking these two figures into consideration, if we look forward to our next 50 years, more than 350,000 students will have graduated from IUPUI by the time we celebrate our centennial. Our graduates will continue to infuse talent into the city and enrich their communities as professionals and business, civic and political leaders.
We champion, endorse and support emerging innovation districts including 16 Tech, Downtown Indy, Great Places 2020 and Plan 2020. In the same vein, we also foster strategic partnerships that aim to revitalize our communities and strengthen our local economy, including collaborations with the Near Westside, Madam Walker Legacy Center and Indy East Promise Zone.
Q: Where do you see opportunities for IUPUI to even more strongly show leadership in economic development?
NP: IUPUI’s first 50 years have been transformational in terms of establishing and growing one of this country’s finest urban public research universities in the heart of Indianapolis. As I look toward the next 50 years, I see us continuing to prepare the Hoosier workforce of today and tomorrow by staying on the cutting edge with our curricula, degree programs and other forms of student programming.
We will continue to conduct transformational research leading to discoveries, innovations and products that will not only stimulate Indiana’s economy but promise to change the world as well as save lives. This includes inspiring innovation and entrepreneurship by applying for and receiving patents, executing licenses, and supporting new companies to fuel the economic clusters in our region. We will also continue to provide strong leadership in areas like addressing the opioid addiction crisis and developing the sports innovation economy so vital to the city.
Finally, we will continue to exercise our purchasing power, grow and hire local talent, and encourage our employees to live close to campus and contribute to the quality of life in our city and state. While IUPUI is a nonprofit teaching and research center, we are the third largest employer in the region. By joining forces with the Indy Chamber, the city of Indianapolis and local nonprofits, we can reinvest in Central Indiana to energize the local economy.