Last week, my office convened our 11th annual Ohio College Presidents Conference.
The idea for this conference was sparked during a roundtable discussion, and – like all the best ideas – it came out of conversations in Ohio, not Washington. With a theme of “Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education,” this year’s conference brought together 35 Ohio college presidents from public and private schools, large and small schools, research institutions and community colleges.
Presidents talked with experts from government agencies, think tanks, journalists, professors, and members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation.
They heard from the Ohio Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund in Columbus that is partnering with Ohio schools, including OSU, OU, and Kent State, to support innovation on campus and help commercialize technology developed at Ohio schools. And they heard from the leader of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Industrial Innovation Partnerships, a program at NSF that fosters relationships and collaboration between higher education and industry.
But the purpose of the conference isn’t only for presidents to hear from experts—it’s for the experts, and for me and my staff, to hear from our Ohio leaders in higher education.
They’re the ones creating opportunity for students to be the first in their family to go to college. And they’re the ones preparing those students for the jobs of tomorrow. They’re doing the research and partnering with the private sector to create those jobs.
Our higher education system is one of our state’s greatest assets. Let’s continue talking and sharing ideas about how we leverage that asset to grow new industries, create jobs, and bring new opportunities to Ohioans.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Ohio.