E. Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University has an interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education calling for more innovative and entrepreneurial leadership at public universities. While I don’t know if this is dramatically new (See Kerr, Bok, Etzkowitz), it appears that years of slow growth and weak state finances have forced Gee to rethink what he and his university do. Some snippets from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
This nation and our world are not merely in a recession; we are also experiencing a resetting of the global economy. All signs point to a new normal in which those of us engaged in higher education must accept that no amount of pleading or whining or denying will alter what now seems an inexorable reality. We will earn what support we get by virtue of our excellence—and our hustle, our ingenuity, and our creativity.
As a starting point, this means the following: finding innovative ways to leverage the market, assessing university-owned assets and considering shedding those that do not contribute to our central mission, commercializing technological innovations, and simplifying processes.
Along those same lines, this past spring and summer we began using a new approach to commercializing our technology innovations. Ohio State’s tech-commercialization effort is just beginning, but we believe it holds great promise—for bringing innovations by faculty members to market, for rewarding them for their work, and for helping to sustain the university in the process. Doing so is not turning the university into a business, it is enabling us to support our core academic values despite volatility in the world around us.
The core question, which all entrepreneurs ask, is what kind of value can a public university and does this provide value to its stakeholders. It is not just about raising revenues and cutting cost.
Looking forward to learning more about Gee and the work he is doing at OSU. Anyone in Columbus want to weight in?