C.A. Taylor


Universities play a valuable role in economic development, but that role is neither well defined nor easily understood. States and communities seeking to improve their economic fortunes are turning to universities to participate more fully in economic development. For their part, universities are promoting their own economic development agendas while trying to increase state and community support. Understanding the economic impact of colleges and universities has long been of interest to higher education administrators, policy makers and public officials. Higher education institutions carefully walk the line between the pursuits of the traditional academic mission and the need for contemporary relevance. This is especially true in Oklahoma. Where colleges and universities are increasingly seen as incubators of future economic development. This article situates Oklahoma within broader development trends by reporting on a state-wide survey of administrators that sought to ascertain the degree and type of development activity undertaken by colleges and universities in Oklahoma. The results suggest that, while such activities are substantial and increasing, they have not evolved in any organized or systematic fashion. In particular, the types of activity undertaken by Oklahoma institutions bear little consistent relationship to the type of institution involved.

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