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Chancellor addresses budget in N&O op-ed

By Randy Woodson

Public universities like N.C. State are critical to the nation’s ability to maintain its edge in the global economy. They are especially important to states like North Carolina where emerging technologies and innovation are rapidly replacing more traditional economic models.  In an area like the Research Triangle that is heavily dependant on technology and innovation for its continued success, they are even more important.

NC State is an institution that has a clear understanding of its mission and a passion for connecting that mission to the people of the state and the nation.  It serves as an economic engine for the area and it helps train the workers of tomorrow.  The state’s continued support of higher education is critical if we’re to continue meeting those expectations.

An analysis of the latest available data indicates the economic impact of N.C. State and its alumni in the local economy totals about $4.2 billion annually.  We are also responsible for the creation of around 64,000 jobs. That’s approximately 20 percent of the Wake County workforce.Universities attract in-state and out-of-state dollars through many channels, including tuition, research and donations. For example, N.C. State has an annual research budget of almost $340 million, the bulk drawn from federal sources.

Public universities are also the nation’s principal creators of a skilled workforce. In its 123-year-history, N.C. State has awarded 211,855 degrees. Last year’s class of 6,806 graduates included 4,612 undergraduate and 2,194 graduate degrees.  And 70 percent of those graduates stayed right here in North Carolina.

Public universities are also engines of technological innovation. The Research Triangle Park was built around N.C. State, UNC — Chapel Hill and Duke.  In California, Silicon Valley was developed around Stanford and Berkeley, while in Boston, Harvard and MIT have helped created a high tech boom.

N.C. State is among the most successful in taking research from the classroom to the public.  More than 110 products developed at N.C. State are available to consumers and we hold 674 U.S. Patents. Seventy-two start-up companies have come from our Raleigh campus. They represent more than $750 million in venture capital investment and they have created more than 3,000 jobs in North Carolina.

North Carolina is a state that values higher education in a way that very few states in the country do and that is one of the things that attracted me here.  But in the modern global economy, with the need for a well-educated workforce to compete in international commerce recognized as a top priority, the educational mission of N.C. State and our other partners in the University of North Carolina is more critical than perhaps at any time in our history.

It takes generations to build a great university, but without continued support from the state, we’ll surely be walking a path toward mediocrity.  This is something no one in North Carolina has ever been willing to settle for in their institutions of higher learning.

1 comment

1 May 21: News Roundup :: Red & White for Life :: NC State University Alumni Association { 05.21.10 at 1:29 pm }

[…] Randy Woodson discusses NC State’s impact in an op-ed in The News & Observer. . . . NC State graduates 4,300 at spring commencement (a photo gallery is available here). . . . […]

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