MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Douglas Estry, Assoc. Provost for Undergraduate Education, spoke at the first ever T-Summit, an event co-sponsored by MSU and IBM.

Over the past decade, employers have been placing increased importance upon the mastery of competencies beyond those focused on the academic discipline. Corporate leaders are increasingly seeking college graduates who can work across organizational, geographic, cultural, and political boundaries who are critical thinkers, effective communicators, leaders and innovators. Higher education and corporate leaders alike recognize this is a growing challenge that needs to be addressed on a variety of fronts both on college campuses and in the workplace.

Employers are specifically looking to hire college graduates who are “T-shaped.” That means the graduate not only has a high level of knowledge in her or his chosen field of study (the vertical bar of the T), but also has the ability to collaborate across disciplines and apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than their own (the horizontal bar of the T).

In an effort to close the college-to-career gap and devise ways to produce more of these highly employable individuals, Michigan State University and IBM co-hosted a discussion in late March between corporate, professional, government and higher education leaders from across the nation called “T-Summit 2014: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent Today.”

Summit participants heard from a wide variety of speakers with expertise on this issue including MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon; President and CEO of IDEO Tim Brown; and retired Executive Vice President of Innovation and Technology for IBM Nick Donofrio. In addition to hearing from these experts and many others, participants also broke into discussion groups where they talked about how business and higher education can work together to meet the challenge of 21st century talent as well as what is needed from both inside and outside both organizations to make partnership successful.

“Michigan State University has a long and proud history of graduating students who are ready to take their place in the workforce, to roll up their sleeves and tackle the many challenges facing our world,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “I’m pleased to have been a part of this summit and am confident the fruits of our work will benefit all students, employers and society as a whole.”

The information gathered at the summit will help shape how business and higher education move forward together on this issue, creating the framework for next steps by both groups. Planning is already underway for T-Summit 2015 which will be held on March 16-17 on MSU’s campus at the Kellogg Center. You can learn more about the T-Summit at http://tsummit2014.org/.


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