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UC Recognized for Economic Engagement

The University of Cincinnati has been recognized by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities for making connections to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship; technology transfer; talent and workforce development; and community development.

Date: 11/12/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Dama Ewbank
Phone: (513) 558-4519

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati (UC) has been named among four winners in the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) inaugural Economic Prosperity University Awards (IEPA) program—with UC winning the "overall" award, signifying excellence in economic engagement across all categories of consideration.

Award winners were recognized by APLU for their exemplary work in economic engagement at the organization’s 126th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10-12, 2013.
Dorothy Air, PhD (left)
Dorothy Air, PhD (left), with Jim Woodell, assistant vice president, Innovation and Technology Policy, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Other winners were Northern Illinois University, the State University of New York and the University of Michigan. The four winning universities (recognized in categories of “innovation,” “place” and “overall”) were selected from a pool of 16 applicants recently designated by APLU as Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities.

UC was named the winner in the “overall” category—a designation given to a university making connections in all university-engaged economic development areas as defined by APLU. These include innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development and community development.

“Engagement with our community is a part of the University of Cincinnati’s DNA and has been since its earliest history," says UC President Santa J. Ono. "Our relationships with the business and public sectors are extremely important to us, and we are honored that a national award, given for the first time ever, has recognized our impact.”

In its application to APLU, UC cited several examples of economic engagement and development, including:

  • The UC Simulation Center, a collaborative with Procter & Gamble and UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science focused on providing P&G with cost-effective, high-value virtual modeling and simulation capacity and capability, while developing a talent pipeline for future recruitment.
  • The Live Well Collaborative, a university-business partnership focused on new product development and service innovations for the over-50 market. 
  • UC Research Institute, an independent nonprofit serving to connect UC experts across the entire university to industry partners. UCRI facilitates commercialization of research and enhances learning experiences for students.
“We’re extremely proud to be recognized by APLU in its inaugural Economic Prosperity University Awards program,” says Dorothy Air, PhD, UC’s associate vice president for entrepreneurial affairs and technology commercialization, adding that the application itself—a rigorous, eight-month process—was a valuable undertaking for the university.
“The self-assessment tools and the development of the growth and improvement plan are being used as part of our strategic planning, so it will continue to have an impact beyond this IEPA process,” she says.

APLU President Peter McPherson says, “These four institutions demonstrate the critical role that public universities play in taking cutting-edge research and translating it into new opportunities for economic growth with businesses in their state.
“All of the schools that participated in this award process illustrated a core responsibility of public universities—giving back to their communities and state in ways that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for residents of that state. APLU will continue to serve as a resource for public universities to expand their economic engagement activities to help advance their local economy.”

Read more about APLU and the IEPA program.


APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) recently spearheaded an effort to have public universities conduct a self-study using its “Institutional Assessment Tools to Enhance Regional Innovation and Prosperity” ( to evaluate each university’s particular engagement in regional economic development.

Applicants for the new Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designation and awards conducted this self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders. Each university applicant identified three areas of strength for itself in economic engagement, and developed case studies to reflect them.

Applicants also identified areas for growth and improvement for their university’s economic engagement enterprise, and fleshed out an improvement plan. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this area of work vital to universities and their regional partners.

University applications were scored by a panel of reviewers representing other universities and also national partners, including the National Governors Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Association of University Research Parks, University Economic Development Association, Business – Higher Education Forum, and the National Association of System Heads. Scoring was based on a range of criteria emphasizing universities’ development of their economic engagement enterprise, their planning efforts around economic engagement, strategic communications around these efforts, and participation in encouraging economic engagement among peer institutions.