The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Wayne State University as one of six finalists for its seventh annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards.
The winners will be announced at the association’s annual meeting, which will be held Nov. 10-12 in San Diego. Wayne State and the other finalists — California State University, Northridge; the University of Michigan; North Carolina State University; Purdue University; and the University of South Florida — are competing for four different awards that recognize different components of university economic engagement.
Wayne State is a finalist for the IEP Talent award, along with North Carolina State, which recognizes exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development. Wayne State is engaged in citywide and regional initiatives to improve workforce participation rates and increase the proportion of individuals with high-skill credentials and college degrees. Because of these citywide and regional collaborations in which Wayne State plays a leading role, the Lumina Foundation recently recognized Detroit as a Talent Hub.
“We’re thrilled to be named a finalist for APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity Awards,” said Ned Staebler, vice president of economic development for Wayne State and president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “It’s great recognition of Wayne State’s $2.5 billion annual impact on economic growth in the city. Not only are we an anchor cultural and educational institute, but we are a leader and partner in the revitalization of Detroit.”
Recognizing the far-reaching impact of illiteracy on the community, Wayne State established the Office of Adult Literacy in 2012 and launched the Harris Literacy Program in 2013. With the underlying goal of workforce development, the program provides adult basic education to help members of the Detroit community reach their academic goals and take steps toward greater self-sufficiency.
In 2018, the program provided services to 160 English language and 150 math students, leading to 26 students enrolling in G.E.D. classes. The literacy center has served more than 1,700 Detroiters since 2013. Additionally, Wayne State launched a suite of programs in 2018-19 to help adults with some college, but no degree.
The university has also identified and is reaching out to nearly 53,000 individuals, encouraging them to return to school. Through its pioneering debt-forgiveness Warrior Way Back program, innovative pathways that include reverse transfer and strong partnerships with community colleges, Wayne State is driving a talent development agenda and paving the way for students to earn their bachelor as well as their associate degrees.
"Community engagement is core to our mission as an institution," said Ahmad Ezzedine, associate vice president for educational outreach and international programs. "Whether we are helping students return to school to learn new skills and earn a degree along the way or provide adults with basic reading and math skills through programs like the Harris Literacy, Wayne State is committed to supporting the educational needs of our community and, consequently, the job, career and economic opportunities for its members."