Thursday, March 4, 2004

Intellectual capital is key, Votruba will tell Senate

Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley

When the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions meets today in Washington, Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba will be there to testify.

Votruba will address the $14 billion Higher Education Act. The legislation authorizes the federal government's major student loan and financial aid programs, as well as some oversight of postsecondary education and training, including work-force development.

Congress must approve a spending reauthorization of the act this year, and educators want to make sure lawmakers understand the importance of the legislation.

"The ability of a region such as ours to compete on a national and global scale depends on our capacity to recruit and retain intellectual capital," Votruba will tell senators, according to an advance copy of his planned testimony.

Votruba will break his talk into four segments:

• Seeding intellectual capital: "Last year we had over 2,000 elementary, middle and high school students enrolled in some form of math or science enrichment," he said. "Without 'seeding' at an early age, too few workers will be prepared to assume knowledge-based jobs."

• Preparing intellectual capital: Votruba will mention that NKU produces "more information science graduates that any other university in Kentucky" and tout how, through the Fifth Third Bank Entrepreneurship Institute, "students from any major may earn a minor in entrepreneurship studies."

• Sustaining intellectual capital: The focus will be on Northern's Metropolitan Education and Training Services Center in Boone County, a corporate and work-force development and training center that has served 13,000 workers since opening in 1999. "Companies are finding that they must have strategies to insure that their employees have access to continuous leaning in support of their work."

• Providing intellectual capital to support economic growth: "Universities have intellectual capital in the form of faculty expertise that can support economic growth," he said. "Through our Small Business Development Center, individuals can get advice on starting a business and development a business plan. Through our recently created Institute for New Economic Technologies, we connect companies with the expertise of our information science faculty and students who can assist in software development, systems applications and computing structures."

THEY SAID IT: "We can't lose sight of what we are trying to do here, and that's trying to bring money into the state of Kentucky. It's not about subsidizing the racetracks or the casino business." Developer Jerry Carroll, who wants to build a casino in Northern Kentucky and opposes pending state legislation that would restrict a local casino to Turfway Park in Florence.


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