Vision of Higher Ed’s Future

A meeting of the Innovation & Workforce Development Committee of the Business Council of New York State offered a glimpse into emerging developments in higher education.

The exceedingly interesting meeting featured David King, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at SUNY Oswego and Diane Fodell, Program Director for Innovation and University Relations at IBM.

Dr. King’s presentation (psm_nysbusiness_council) explained the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program, currently available at nine SUNY institutions and a host of others across the state and nation. The PSM, clumsily thought of as a “Science MBA,” is geared to prepare students for work in scientific endeavors outside of pure research by developing professional skills, such as marketing, management, communications et. al, alongside rigorous scientific training in specific disciplines.

The PSM program goal is to develop both technical and leadership skills to bridge the fast moving worlds of research science and real-world business. Dr. King argued that this sort of training is essential to maintaining a competitive, if not premier, workforce in the emerging knowledge-based economy.

Extending the idea of improving the utility and training of the emerging workforce, Ms. Fodell introduced attendees to the a program in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME).

Ms. Fodell’s presentation (ssme-overview-2008_bcnys ) overcame skepticism about a new academic program by reminding that IBM in union with Columbia University first posited the idea of a computer science degree to widespread jeers. The SSME has goals similar to the PSM, that is the development of people with broad, interdisciplinary knowledge, but with significant depth in one or more particular fields. She spoke of training a “trilingual” leader, one who was fluent in science & technology and business management, as well as cultural/societal/political realms.

Ms. Fodell’s presentation offered keen insights and opportunities to stay informed of similar, innovative ideas.

For NYSHEI, this fascinating afternoon drove home the importance of attaining leading information resources at the full spectrum of academic and research libraries, as both programs envision broad application of the idea of a flexible and responsive workforce, often with education builds upon, or fits outside of, a traditional “college experience.” The presentations also offered much food for thought to collections development personal who must find ways to support such hybrid programs.

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