WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study conducted by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) reveals that state colleges and universities create jobs and infuse revenue to local economies. State colleges and universities are top 10 employers (84 percent), top 20 (99 percent) or one of the top 5 local employers (71 percent) in their communities according to presidents. Counter to the Department of Labor's April employment report which showed a 9.0 percent increase in the unemployment rate, presidents are optimistic (60 percent) about long-term local market job growth, indicating that the number of jobs will grow over the next 12 months. Nearly two-thirds of presidents (63 percent) feel that the size of the local economy will grow. The survey also reveals the critical role of state colleges and universities to local K-12 education with 96 percent of schools improving the educational infrastructure of the communities they serve.
"Historically, state colleges and universities have enriched our country by serving as 'stewards of place' for their communities, not only delivering on the American promise of student access, affordability and educational opportunity but also by honoring a legacy of service, creating community building opportunities ranging from economic development to school reform," said Muriel Howard, president of AASCU. "This survey confirms that ours are publicly engaged institutions, that our members are enriching the communities they serve, rooting their importance in the American infrastructure. This year AASCU celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving as a leading advocate for and partner with state colleges and universities. As we look to the next 50 years, the partnerships between our members and their communities will be even more crucial as both seek to effectively meet 21st century challenges."
Economic Development – One of the most tangible measures of an institution's economic impact on the community is its financial contribution to the community – as an employer and as a revenue driver.
- Presidents indicated that their school's average dollar impact on the community in 2009 was $534 million.
Elevating Education – Institutions of higher learning are committed to making positive contributions to their local community.
- Most respondents are pessimistic and very concerned about the quality of K-12 education and opportunities for youth in their local community and are focused on improving community education. In fact, 98 percent of presidents stated that their institution currently sponsors programs or innovations aimed at improving the community they serve.
- More importantly, 90 percent of presidents indicate that their school has taken on a role to provide training and educational opportunities for community residents who are not necessarily traditional students.
Cultural Enhancement– Colleges and universities are hubs for intellectual growth and fine arts.
- Most presidents reported that the role their institution has taken includes providing the community access to arts and culture.
- Schools provide cultural events such as lectures (97 percent), exhibitions (96 percent) and galleries (94 percent), as well as access to films (77 percent), museums (64 percent) and online exhibitions (52 percent).
For 50 years, AASCU has championed public higher education by providing advocacy and policy support to its more than 400 member colleges and universities. AASCU surveyed its members as part of its 50th anniversary celebration as a way to highlight and reinforce the significant role these institutions play in their communities. By offering affordable educational opportunities that enrich individuals and their communities, AASCU members deliver America's promise to nearly 4 million students annually by providing access, opportunity and student-centered education to individuals from all walks of life. AASCU's anniversary celebration concludes with its annual leadership meeting in October, where ABC Good Morning America journalist Robin Roberts will receive the association's Distinguished Alumnus Award presented annually to a graduate of an AASCU member institution.
The survey was conducted between February 14 and March 11, 2011. All members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities were invited to participate. A total of 112 responses were captured, which represents a participation rate of 27 percent. Fifty-five percent of respondents represented schools with 5,000 to 15,000 students. For more information about the survey and the association, visit www.aascu.org.
AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions' economic progress and cultural development.
Contact: Cheryl Robinson
SOURCE American Association of State Colleges and Universities