Arizona Board of Regents Chair Larry Penley talks about the board and universities’ plan to lead Arizona’s post-pandemic economic recovery. The plan features a targeted approach that looks at each university’s area of strength. For instance, ASU would design and launch the largest center for engineering education and research in the United States, growing enrollments to 25,000+ and making metro Phoenix the leading center for engineer talent production in America. NAU would provide talent in high demand fields with an emphasis on health care programs in regional locations – including mental and behavioral health – to address the state’s needs as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Arizona would enhance medical professional and researcher training for Arizona’s health care needs and more.
Penley does not believe it is too early to discuss a recovery plan for after the pandemic and goes on to explain what that plan would entail. As mentioned above, the plan centers on maximizing the strengths of each of the three state universities because, “the entire state of Arizona is going to be dependent on building and attracting and creating those (big) companies along the way, and all three universities are going to be involved in that.”
In speaking on the specifics of those needs Penley mentioned, “the kind of allied health positions that are created by Northern Arizona University, the kind of scientific labor force that’s created by the University of Arizona and Arizona state university are all going to be necessary for this economy. And further the emphasis that ASU has placed on engineering is going to meet a huge demand for much more technical engineers down the road.”
In expanding on his thoughts, Penley confirmed that this is an entry into the fourth industrial revolution; one specifically that is focused on technology and is desperately needed in Arizona, a state that lacks behind in most advancements of this field.