Last summer, Moody’s Investors Service reported that “meds and eds” – hospitals and universities – are critical to the Baltimore region’s economy. Major institutions like Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland grab headlines for their outsized impact on the regional economy and the neighborhoods around their campuses, often overshadowing the impact of Baltimore County’s several universities and colleges.
Take the economic impact of Towson University. Its Division of Innovation and Applied Research is supporting entrepreneurship and small business development and developing programs to meet workforce needs in Baltimore County. Its Regional Economic Studies Institute recently analyzed the University’s economic impact over the past 150 years. They found the University supports more than 34,000 jobs as of 2014, and the University’s graduates supported 21,386 jobs as of 2014.
Towson is more than an economic engine, though. It has a meaningful and positive impact on communities in the County. Under the leadership of Jeff Beeson, the University has started tracking its community partnerships. They found that they maintain 162 partnerships and relationships, the vast majority of which are in Central Maryland. A little over half are in Baltimore City – but Jeff is working to increase the role the University plays in the County, too.
Some the partnerships Jeff is most proud of include:
· Math in the Middle
o The Office of the Presidential Scholar, the Fisher College Department of Mathematics, and Baltimore County Public schools are collaborating to provide a summer professional development workshop program for Baltimore County mathematics teachers. The purpose is to improve late elementary and middle school mathematics teacher instruction, and to inform teacher preparation at TU.
· Universal Design for Learning
o A collaborative project with TU’s Department of Special Education, the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Baltimore County Public Schools will implement Universal Design for Learning in two middle schools. UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn.
· Model United Nations Conference Program
o The Model United Nations Conference seeks to develop Baltimore County high school students’ awareness of global issues and the problem-solving processes involved in international relations. Through preparation and participation in this conference, students will develop skills in: role playing, public speaking, concise and informative written communication, working with others toward mutually defined goals, and applying research skills to global issues, including in-depth exploration of materials issued in print and electronic form from national governments, international organizations, and academic sources. Our primary goals are to facilitate the study of international affairs and increase global awareness among high school students. TU students participate as group and country advisors for the high school groups, which helps them apply their learning about international issues, civic engagement, research and leadership to the Model UN.
· Workforce Training
o Over the past two years, the Towson University Center for Professional Studies has provided training and education services to more than 130 Baltimore County residents through a partnership with the Division of Economic and Workforce Development. We provided training in professional certification program to unemployed or underemployed residents seeking to enhance their marketable skills in the high growth field of IT, Project Management, and the health professions.
Whether it’s the direct impact that comes with jobs and economic development or the indirect impact that comes with leveraging the University’s resources to strengthen our neighborhoods, Towson is taking a more active role right here. In both cases, Towson University and it’s Division of Innovation and Applied Research are playing a role in helping to shape a Better Baltimore County.