• What do Texas business leaders think of higher ed partnerships? A BU survey has answers.

    Lightbulb with a Texas-shaped filament

    How do business leaders in Texas view higher ed research partnerships? What role do universities play in innovation? Which direction do people think the Texas economy is headed in 2020?

    A recent research partnership between Baylor University and Texas Business Journals attempted to answer these questions and more.

    Responses from nearly 600 Texas business leaders show plenty of opportunities for Baylor to address greater challenges as we prepare students to be problem-solvers and innovators. Among the survey’s key findings:

    * Texas needs more research universities — Nearly 3/4 of respondents said Texas, with its growing population and innovative bent, needs more research universities to remain competitive. Baylor is working to fulfill that need as it pursues R1/Tier 1 research status — joining a prestigious group of just 130 such universities nationwide that are our nation’s most active research institutions.

    * Industry values university research — Three-quarters of those surveyed said they have a favorable impression of businesses that partner with industry for research, and even more — nearly 8 in 10 — believe universities like Baylor have a moral responsibility to engage in research and discovery.

    * Students with research experience are in-demand — Almost 80% of business leaders say that research experience better prepares students for the workplace. At a Baylor-Dallas Business Journal panel discussion with President Livingstone last week in Dallas, Baylor alumna Lauren Dreyer (BS ’05) — now director of human resources and business operations for SpaceX — explained why:

    “I had the opportunity to participate in research projects, opportunities that got me out of the classroom to apply knowledge and build skills that were very analogous to what we look for in employees. You go through the list of what you’re looking for in a great employee, and the research opportunities simulated that for me — to learn what it felt like to fail and succeed and build the resilience that I think it takes to be a great employee in an innovative company.”

    * Optimism abounds for the Texas economy — By a margin of more than 2-to-1, business leaders are more bullish on the Texas economy in 2020 than the U.S. economy. About 80% of survey participants say they expect to see a revenue increase, and 55% expect to grow the workforce in the year ahead.

    For Baylor, the answers were encouraging as the university looks to better integrate research opportunities into classroom teaching. Responding to businesses’ needs, Baylor students get opportunities through research experiences to be shaped as problem-solvers and innovators — and after graduation, to meet market needs that can help them be more desirable job candidates and leaders in the fields of their calling.

    Sic ’em, Baylor researchers!

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