- Author: Wendy Powers
I am in Pennsylvania the first part of this week for a conference. I under-dressed for the rain and cold that will be in the Mid-Atlantic states all week. I don't miss the humidity of the Eastern U.S.
The conference is interesting but I was most looking forward to the tours. Unfortunately, Zoom calls for UC ANR work got in the way of my participation in the Happy Valley LaunchBox tour which I was really looking forward to attending. A signature program of Invent Penn State, Happy Valley LaunchBox is one of 21 LaunchBoxes and innovation hubs across Pennsylvania. Aside from the slogan “Don't Quit Your Daydream”, LaunchBoxes are designed to be the community “hub” that connects entrepreneurs to the resources and facilities they need to build a scalable business. The LaunchBoxes offer no-cost co-working, accelerator programs, legal and IP advice, and access to industry expertise. The LaunchBox idea resembles one that occurred to me a couple of years ago when, through state funding, President Napolitano provided $2M to each campus and the National Labs to broaden innovation and infrastructure. UC ANR did not receive any of the funds but had it, I could envision UCCE offices around California using funds to capacity and partner with local resources to provide support for innovators and entrepreneurs. What's different between what I imagined and what is popping up around the country driven by local universities, including these LaunchBoxes, is that Cooperative Extension would be central to the effort as an entity that is already engaged in local communities.
During a break, I had a chance to visit briefly with Marshall Stewart from the University of Missouri and hear how Lupita is settling in. ‘Settling' does not adequately describe Lupita or her efforts. She is doing great things and hardly standing still, let alone ‘settling'. While it was a great loss to UC ANR, I can't tell you how much I love hearing that people are doing well in new positions. Sometimes a change in scenery offers the chance for one to grow and unleash their talents.
During the conference we talked about change; the need for academia to change not by throwing out everything we've done but by adapting how we do it, much like basketball has become a 3-point game (so I'm told). The 3-point skills identified were 1) developing ‘intrapreneurs' by building team skills in innovation, 2) instilling an appreciation for lifelong learning, and 3) engaging the university in solving challenges faced by the local community. Sounds like Cooperative Extension, doesn't it? We heard the pitches from 6 universities competing for a national award. One of my favorites was Wayne State University's Harris Literacy Program, primarily because of the difference it makes, not for its students, but for the local community that, without the program, wouldn't even dream of a college education. Another pitch from Michigan (University of Michigan) talked about a return of $133 for every $1 invested by the state and total revenue to Michigan of $573 million to the state. Looks like I may have sold that house too soon.
I've seen rain every day since arriving on Sunday and I haven't had a Diet Coke since United served it on the plane. Sunday seems like it was a long time ago. In the morning I head to Riverside, via Sacramento, so all will be back to normal soon enough.