President John Haeger will discuss NAU’s role in helping to establish the global competitiveness of the state when he speaks to the Greater Phoenix Leadership on Thursday, April 19.

Haeger will be joined by Arizona State University President Michael Crow and University of Arizona President Robert Shelton for the discussion in Phoenix on the opportunities and challenges to achieving a globally competitive Arizona economy.

“For Arizona and the United States to be economically competitive, we have to invest in education at all levels,” Haeger said.

The president will share some sobering statistics about education:

  • Arizona ranks 25th in the nation in six-year baccalaureate degree graduation rates.
  • Arizona ranks 12th from the bottom in high school graduation rates.
  • In South Korea, 38 percent of all undergraduates receive their degrees in natural science or engineering; in China, the figure is 50 percent and in Singapore, it is 67 percent. In the United State, the figure is 15 percent.

“Economic competitiveness will require a major effort to educate in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” he said.

Contrary to popular belief, Haeger said accessibility is not the issue. “We have more than enough institutions and ways of educating. What we lack are teachers and students pursuing a higher education.”

Haeger also will point to the need for increasing foreign language requirements and international studies.

“We are competing with Asia and the Middle East, but we do not fully understand their economies and cultures.”

Haeger will talk about NAU research that competes on the national levels in such areas as water resources, forest health, sustainability and the prevention of infectious diseases.

A key to global economic competitiveness is a different governmental leadership structure that shifts from silos to a horizontal organization, according to Haeger. “We need for county and city governments to become investment engines for university and business development.”