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Published May 19, 2020
Incoming University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel will be at the table with some of the nation’s leaders in industry, higher education and research as a member of the Council on Competiveness, the leading national organization focused on keeping the United States at the forefront of economic competitiveness.
Seidel, who becomes UW’s 28th president July 1, was invited to join the council based upon his career and recent service as the vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois System. His membership gives Wyoming its first-ever presence in the national organization.
“I intend to make long-term economic and workforce development for the state of Wyoming an important part of my administration’s focus, and participating on this council will provide tremendous support for this effort,” says Seidel, whose membership on the council was approved last week by the UW Board of Trustees. “This will create national-level networking and partnership opportunities for the university and the state; allow us to influence national and regional policy recommendations; and provide visibility for the university and the state at the national level.”
Seidel will join more than 20 university presidents on the council, including those from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado and the University of Illinois. Other members of the council include two dozen CEOs, such as those of Royal Dutch Shell and Deloitte; and the leaders of several national laboratories under the Department of Energy.
Additionally, he will be a part of the council’s new flagship initiative, the National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness. That commission aims to expand the role of higher education in leadership and workforce development; create new models for public-private partnerships; set the stage for a new wave of entrepreneurship and job creation; and build critical digital and physical infrastructure.
“Today’s economy is changing at an unprecedented speed, and universities, companies, states and nations are scrambling to adapt. No one can address these issues alone,” Seidel says. “Laying the groundwork for the new economy is fundamental to the university’s land-grant mission, and it will require partnerships with businesses, community colleges, schools and others from around the state -- and around the nation.”
Seidel notes that the Council on Competitiveness led the 2004 National Innovation Initiative, which shaped the policy agenda for the bipartisan America Competes legislation under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama that supported investments in the National Science Foundation. Such legislation provided support for science and technology investments such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research-Wyoming Supercomputing Center near Cheyenne.
The council also worked with the Department of Energy to create the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership, including new programs to use all sources of U.S. energy to support advanced production and supply chains for U.S. businesses.
“Wyoming has strengths that feed directly into national needs, including the state’s K-12 computer science education programs; projects like Wyoming Integrated Test Center and Carbon XPrize; and corporate partnerships like those in UW’s Center of Innovation for Flow through Porous Media and others from the ENDOW initiative,” Seidel says. “We will be in a position to help lead a national discussion and set policy that will benefit Wyoming and states like ours.”
Seidel is working to assemble a group of Wyoming business, higher education and other leaders to work with him to advance the state’s economy through research and education -- and to “make sure our membership on the council can be as effective as possible.”
“Our aim is to develop better ideas for programmatic activities at the university and in partnership with community colleges, communities and companies to advance the long-term economic development activities of the state,” he says.