Metro Universities Play Major Role in Development

By Titus, Nancy Raiden | THE JOURNAL RECORD, February 8, 1992 | Go to article overview

Metro Universities Play Major Role in Development


Titus, Nancy Raiden, THE JOURNAL RECORD


The metropolitan university is an important element in the push to make Oklahoma City a "big league player," according to Frank Wert, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma.

"A metamorphosis is taking place as we see the transformation of the urban college into a large metropolitan university," he said.

A well developed metropolitan university will assist in efforts to lure economic development projects to the city because it provides the infrastructure to give employees higher education at times and in manners that suit their living and working habits.

"I am excited about the metropolitan urban college. It is the wave of the future."

Wert, an economist, has been with the Edmond university formerly known as Central State University for 20 years and also served as dean of its College of Liberal Arts. His comments on the role of the urban university were given Wednesday to the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable, a monthly gathering of people interested in economic issues that affect the central Oklahoma area.

He said Oklahoma City's bid for United Airlines provided confidence that different groups could work together for the benefit of the city.

"We learned a lot. We identified our strengths and found that we could pull together."

The push to make the city a "big league player" means that we "must have cost effective access" to education. "It is underdeveloped. We are not achieving our full potential," he said.

Wert said higher education is a social equalizer, and the metropolitan college is particularly well suited to provide access to a specific urban constituency. Its character, structure and function reflect the pluralistic society it serves, making it more than an overgrown regional college.

"The metropolitan university is in sync with the economy and with the demand. The urban area is where the action is. It's where the population is. It's where the major conflicts that are being worked out are."

He said the most recent census showed that 75 percent of the population was urban. The number of urban-bound workers is continuing to increase as is the number of two-income families, statistics that indicate people who are not able to leave their jobs to go to school full time.

Wert compared the developing role the urban university to the land grant colleges of the previous century. The land grant colleges were "an overwhelming economic success," Wert said. "They made educational opportunity a reality."

Those colleges helped farmers find more efficient production methods and were instrumental in "redefining avenues of success."

Wert noted a change in the economic base of the country _ from land in the 19th century to capital in the 20th century. He predicted that the base of the 21st century would be the human factor of production or intellectual power.

"The society that possesses this in the greatest abundance will be the most competitive globally."

A social investment, partly in the form of funding universities, is needed to create that form of capital.

He said the most important variable for students when selecting a university is cost. Room and board charges dominate that cost equation, and so more students will be living at home and commuting. …

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