Dr. Mary L. Good delivered a talk to Little Rock Rotarians on Tuesday stressing the importance of quality post-secondary education to the city’s continued economic growth.
Good, who serves as special advisor to the chancellor for economic development at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said Little Rock is poised to be a great city because of its welcoming environment, great climate, and beautiful scenery.
However, continued attention needs to be paid to the infrastructure, imaginative leadership, and the relationship between UALR and the city, she said. Although UALR boasts a number of extraordinary programs and faculty, there seems to be a disconnect between public perception and this reality, according to Good.
“UALR has made significant progress in the last decade,” Good said. “But the perception of its prestige still needs work.”
For example, Good noted that few realize UALR’s designation as a Carnegie Research University, with hundreds of post-graduate students enrolled in one of several leading doctoral programs.
In addition, UALR has consistently supplied qualified employees to key businesses in the Little Rock metro area. The university has also benefitted from corporate contributions to its campus, such as Acxiom’s support of UALR’s information quality graduate program, the only one of its kind in the U.S., according to Good.
She touted examples of other metropolitan cities with quality educational institutions that could serve as role models for the continued relationship between the city and the campus. One example, the University of Louisville in Kentucky, is mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly to be a “preeminent metropolitan research university.”
“There are no major cities that do not have a major university (contributing to its growth),” Good said. Good suggested that continued progress could be made by supporting endowed professorships, student scholarships, and additional industry/university collaborations.
Good said improvements in current products and knowledge are leading to an empowered workforce and “an empowered and savvy management team” must be groomed to lead.
She also took the opportunity to promote the work of the new George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center™ at UALR, which offers a cross-discipline approach to cutting-edge data analytics and visualization.
“We have had a lot of things going on and in my opinion, it’s as good as any in the world today,” she said.
Good is the founding dean of UALR’s George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. She is also the current chair for the UALR Emerging Analytics Center Management Board.