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Greenspan says education plays vital role in the country’s economic growth (Released: 10/14/97

by Renu Sehgal-Aldrich, Office of University Communications.

Storrs, Conn. -- Education is vital to the future growth of the country’s economy because workers and managers must cope with rapid economic change, Alan Greenspan said in a speech at the University of Connecticut on Tuesday.

Greenspan, who began his third term as chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System in June 1996, can cause gyrations on Wall Street with the slightest hints about the direction of interest rates. But his speech at UConn focused on the heightened need for Americans to be educated if the country is to remain competitive in the still developing global marketplace.

"Expanded linkages between business and education should be encouraged at all levels of our educational system," he said during a speech in von der Mehden Recital Hall. "Building bridges between our educational institutions and the private business sector should have payoffs in how well graduates are prepared to meet the challenges of an increasingly knowledge-based global economy."

UConn, he said, has developed programs to make these connections.

"The payoff to advanced training remains high, and even with higher rates of enrollment, the supply of college-trained labor does not appear likely to outstrip the growing demands of a rapidly changing economy," Greenspan said. "The linkages between the private sector and our colleges and universities have a long tradition, and many of those schools are endeavoring to extend those connections. Your university’s plans for the Connecticut Information Technology Institute embodies this reality. You and your partners in the business community clearly appreciate the mutual benefits that will accrue as technologically advanced learning is grounded in real-world curricula — beginning with students and continuing for workers seeking to renew their skills."

CITI is a partnership between businesses, the community and the University to identify and train employees for the burgeoning information technology industry and to facilitate interaction and innovation among educational institutions and business leaders on information technology issues. The partnerships with area businesses will include student internships, CIO-level roundtables and IT-related workshops.

The workplace is now dominated by technology, the applications of which will continue to increase productivity and reduce business costs, he said. The largest growth sector in America’s real gross domestic product is the result of new insights. New information has contributed to reconfiguring products to improve the standards of living, such as by replacing transistors with vacuum tubes to decrease the size of radios.

"New architectural, engineering, and materials technologies have enabled the construction of buildings enclosing the same amount of space, but with far less physical material than was required, say, 50 or 100 years ago... In this environment, America’s prospects for economic growth will depend greatly on our capacity to develop and to apply this technology," he said.

The demand "for workers who are equipped not simply with technical know-how, but with the ability to create, analyze, and transform information and to interact effectively with others" has accelerated with the increases in technology and with other business practices such as decreasing the layers of management, Greenspan said.

"At the root of both the rise in the demand for workers who embody so-called human capital and the increasing application of technology is the realization by business that remaining in today’s competitive world requires unprecedented flexibility to adapt to change," he said. "Traditionally, broader human capital skills have been associated with higher education and, accordingly, the demand for college-trained workers has been increasing rapidly."

Nearly 500 people, including state legislators, trustees, business leaders, faculty, staff and students turned out for Greenspan’s lecture, which was the first in The Greenwich Capital Markets Economic Seminar Series.

"Alan Greenspan’s visit continues our tradition of bringing the very best minds in the world to the UConn campus," said President Philip E. Austin, who introduced Greenspan. "I’m absolutely thrilled to see someone of Mr. Greenspan’s stature, someone who commands respect from Washington to Wall Street, come to Storrs. It is yet another reflection of our renewed energy and vitality."

Other speakers on campus during the past few years include: President Clinton; Bill Cosby; Mikhail Gorbachev; Cornell West; Maya Angelou; Madeleine Albright; ’60s radical Angela Davis; NPR’s Margot Adler; eating disorder specialist and author Peggy Claude-Pierre; 1996 Nobel Prize Winners Richard Smalley in chemistry and David M. Lee ’55 in physics; and world-renowned geneticist/human rights activist Mary Claire King.

Greenspan’s lecture was sponsored by Greenwich Capital Markets in collaboration with the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, the School of Business Administration’s Center for International Business Education and Research and the University Libraries. The series, endowed by Greenwich Capital Markets, will bring a major national figure to campus each year to discuss various aspects of international commerce. The endowment was presented to the University during events surrounding the successful fund-raising efforts for the Dodd Center and its archives.

Greenwich Capital Markets is a trading, finance and investment banking firm with headquarters in Greenwich. It is a subsidiary of NatWest Markets, a division of National Westminster Bank, one of the world’s largest and most strongly capitalized financial institutions, with worldwide reach and subsidiaries in 22 countries.

Greenspan, 71, has been appointed chairman of the federal reserve by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton. He also serves as chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the system’s principal monetary policymaking body. A member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, Greenspan also served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors under President Gerald Ford and, from 1981-83, as chairman of the National Commission on Social Security Reform.

Other presidential appointments include service on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation, the Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force, and the Task Force on Economic Growth.

A senior advisor to the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, Greenspan also was a consultant to the Congressional Budget Office, and a member of Time magazine’s Board of Economists.

Greenspan earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from New York University. He has conducted advanced graduate studies at Columbia University.