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Profile: Carl Patton

One-time UC student Dr. Carl Patton, president of Georgia State University, recently returned to Cincinnati to as the featured speaker at a prestigious national conference looking at university-business-state alliances that have made Georgia, especially the Atlanta area, a magnet for "industries of the mind."

Carl Patton

Patton is an enthusiastic booster of ivory tower/industry cooperation and coordination such as he has helped to bring about in Georgia. It can be done in any region, he claims. "A decade ago, this was all new. Then, Georgia lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of business and economic development. We were not a high-tech center," explained Patton, a 1967 graduate from UC's School of Planning who grew up in Cincinnati's North Fairmount neighborhood and is a 1962 graduate of Cincinnati's Elder High School. "We've now moved ahead."

Patton himself has likewise "moved ahead" thanks to a solid start at UC. He credits his UC training for instilling a work ethic that has helped him throughout an academic career where the days have always started very early in the morning and continue late into the night as he filled roles as instructor, dean, and vice president at universities in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio before beginning his service as President at George State in 1992 where he was selected as President out of a field of 105 candidates from 34 states.

Because of my real-world experience at UC, I gained the ability to talk to people. It taught me how to talk to people in the business community...I loved UC. I loved my field. I wish I could do it again. Every day was exciting, and the faculty really cared. They...knew us....They were world-class," he recalled, adding that now-retired faculty member, Sam Noe, was his favorite because of Noe's concern for his students. "He would sit down with you as often as you wanted or needed to go over a project."

Patton points to the size and quality of UC's cooperative education program as an invaluable tool for him. (UC is the world's founding institution of cooperative education, where students alternate academic quarters with paid, professional work in their field. UC founded co-op in 1906.) Patton's best memories of his own co-op days including mentoring by leaders in the planning field, the chance to travel at a time when opportunities to do so were limited, and the chance to earn tuition money, eventually allowing him to graduate with only a small amount of loan debt.

Senior year co-ops with urban planning "godfather" and author Ladislas Segoe were especially memorable not only for the professional work experience but for the generous guidance Segoe offered. "Segoe took a personal interest in his co-ops, taking it to another level...He spent time with us at lunch, asking us what we wanted to do with our lives. He and his wife invited us to dinner parties at his home," explained Patton who still counts some of his one-time co-op employers and fellow students as friends.

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