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Erie's university presidents collaborate on ‘The Path Forward’

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leaders of Erie’s universities have formed the Council of University Presidents, a collaborative initiative intended to parlay Erie’s higher education assets into a more prosperous future for the region.

“This represents the first time in Erie's history that the presidents of the county's four universities have worked together to take a collaborative leadership role in projecting a prosperous, vibrant and creative future for Erie,” said Mercyhurst University President Tom Gamble, Ph.D. “One thing we emphasized was that our institutions are stewards of the lives and futures of thousands of young people.  If we can create a culture in Erie that is sufficiently exciting, artistic, creative and evocative that they want to stay, they will find a way or make a way to do so and we will all benefit from their creativity.  I hope that many members of the Mercyhurst community will be involved in the joint efforts that we expect to result from this unprecedented collaboration."

The plans were delineated in a white paper, “The Path Forward: A Statement of the Future of our Region by the Leaders of Erie’s Universities,” presented Tuesday, Jan. 21, to the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership by Gamble, Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., Penn State-Behrend Chancellor Donald Birx, Ph.D., and Edinboro University President Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

As a “college town,” they note that the creative energy of more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff gives the Erie region a head start toward future prosperity. Together the institutions provide more than $500 million annually to boost the regional economy.

While each of the universities brings distinct areas of expertise to the table, collectively they intend to engage in four critical areas key to making Erie a center for creativity and innovation: Initiative 1: Collaborate to develop new industries; 2: Partner to build strengths in emerging technologies that will generate opportunity for the region; 3: Accelerate collaboration to promote an improved quality of life across all Erie communities; and 4: Establish the Erie Regional Education and Training Consortium to strengthen pathways toward career education.

To learn more about the plans, you can view the white paper here.