URC schools attracting and developing top talent, study shows


Michigan’s leading research universities are magnets for top-notch talent, attracting, developing and retaining highly skilled individuals to propel Michigan’s economy into the future, a new report confirms.

With more than $2.1 billion in research and development annually, the University Research Corridor, which includes the University of Michigan, is one of the nation’s top academic research clusters.

Along with fellow members Michigan State and Wayne State, the URC universities engage 12,000 world-class faculty members and 35,000 graduate students, elevating their undergraduate programs and supporting regional economies.

“Attracting, Fostering, and Inspiring Talent for the Global Economy,” a study released Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, reports that the URC ranks first in medical degrees, second in advanced degrees in high-tech fields such as engineering and sciences, first in total degrees awarded, and first in enrollment, among eight top research university clusters in the United States.

“Why are all of these degrees, especially the advanced and medical degrees, so important? Because they meet employers’ needs, support high-tech entrepreneurship, generate tax dollars and provide access to higher quality health care and enhanced quality of life for all Michigan residents,” said Jeff Mason, executive director of the URC.

From left, U-M President Mark Schlissel, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, and WSU President M. Roy Wilson are interviewed Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference. (Photo by Laura Lessnau, Michigan News)

The URC universities, which account for 93 percent of all academic R&D in Michigan, boast worldwide networks of more than 1.2 million living alumni, more than half of them living in Michigan and comprising a third of the state bachelor’s degree holders and advanced degree holders age 25 and older.

“For this report, we considered talented individuals as the central focus of the economy of the future, and examined the role Michigan’s research universities play in creating, attracting and nurturing that talent,” said Patrick Anderson of Anderson Economic Group, author of the report.

“Our three Carnegie-classified, highly intensive research institutions are not only retaining world class talent, but actively recruiting skilled individuals from around the globe, putting Michigan on the map for research and innovation,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “URC talent embodies a depth and breadth of skills that are essential in our ever-changing global economy.”

Because of the comprehensive nature and diversity of opportunities at URC universities, graduates from the schools attribute broad-based skills desired by employers — including communication, critical thinking, leadership and entrepreneurship — to their university experience.

More than 20 percent of surveyed alumni listed job titles indicating leadership roles, such as owner, partner, CEO, president and director.

“The attainment of a degree from one of our universities proves to be instrumental in preparing Michigan’s talent base for the real world applications in their careers, fostering an impact that extends beyond the walls of our three institutions,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel.

LinkedIn social media data indicates that the Big Three automotive employers — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler — hire thousands of URC graduates, and that the URC universities are ranked in the top three alma mater institutions for Big Three employees.

“URC universities are producing talent that meets the demands of top employers throughout the state and region, inspiring companies to locate near our campuses and hire a great number of our graduates,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson.

Talent is critical to a healthy economy and Michigan is benefitting from the talent of highly skilled URC graduates.

According to the report, native Michigan college graduates are three times more likely to start their career in Michigan if they graduate from a Michigan college or university. Even during a deep recession, nearly 75 percent of native Michigan URC graduates stayed in the state and 20 percent of out-of-state graduates.

Profiles of examples of URC talent, including alumni making global impacts and staying connected to Michigan, entrepreneurs who remained in Michigan after graduation and researchers and business attracted here by the strength of the URC universities, can be found at the URC website.


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