EXISTING MODELS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE
FOR ARIZONA IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Economic Exigencies: Embracing Opportunity
At one time the foundational elements of the Arizona economy were cattle,
cotton, copper, citrus, and climate. But in this era of rapid advances
in knowledge, in a knowledge-driven economy, the key to economic development
is economic diversification. Diversification is only possible with the
presence of an educated work force—with the presence of what one
cultural observer has termed a “creative class.”
In a recent study, Richard Florida, a Carnegie Mellon University professor
of regional economic development, describes the emergence of a new social
sector—more than 30 percent of the national work force—comprised
of artists, musicians, writers, designers, architects, engineers, scientists,
and others for whom creativity is an essential dimension of their livelihood.
In this usage, creativity is a driving force in the growth of the economy,
and almost without exception, I assume that education is a key determinant
to inclusion in the occupations that comprise this group.
I think of members of the creative class as knowledge workers—in
the arts and humanities, in the sciences and technology, in the professions,
in business, industry, and government. There is a demonstrable correlation
between the availability of knowledge workers in a local economy and its
success. Knowledge workers comprise the educated and flexible work force
that will allow a diversified economy in Arizona to flourish in the decades
A striking example is the economic growth associated with science and
technology. Every year 60 to 75 percent of economic growth is driven by
technological advances, and since 1990, nearly all major technological
advances have been driven by fundamental academic scientific discovery.
Universities produce the knowledge workers that drive the economy. If
Arizona is to thrive, it must support institutions that promote the emergence
of a strong class of knowledge workers.
Arizona must be a place where upward mobility over successive generations—call
it the American dream—is still possible. Our K-12 school districts
and community colleges play a fundamental role in the task of producing
an educated work force, a work force that makes upward mobility possible.
Our research universities must collaborate with our school districts and
community colleges, and I see ASU as a driving force in this collaboration.
Our responsibility to our students begins long before they arrive on
campus, and I want ASU to be an influence in their lives long after they
have graduated. As I hope to make clear today, I also want ASU to be an
influence in the lives of all those in our community—not only those
who are part of our academic community.