Universities have key role to play in revitalizing southwestern Ontario

January 21, 2015

An article published in the Globe & Mail suggests that southwestern Ontario could benefit from plummeting oil prices, but says that the region’s PSE institutions must play a leadership role. The article explores what southwestern Ontario can learn from a revitalized US Rust Belt, and notes the role strong university leadership played in the recovery of cities like Akron, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. University of Akron President Luis Proenza, for instance, made significant investments in campus facilities, added an engineering school, and helped develop an entrepreneurial culture in the city. Proenza cites a foundation dedicated to commercializing research as “the single most important” economic initiative undertaken during his tenure. He notes that he did meet resistance from some colleagues who felt that universities should not participate in industry, but argues that such work is necessary for universities to become key economic players in their regions. The article says that cities like Windsor, London, and St Catharines, which have suffered from poor employment numbers, have much to learn from these examples. Globe & Mail