Riley wants college presidents to become businesses recruiters
By Desiree Hunter
Associated Press Writer
PRATTVILLE — College presidents are used to recruiting students to their campuses, but Gov. Bob Riley said Tuesday he wants them to also help lure businesses to Alabama.
Riley, speaking at the Alabama College System Presidents’ Association’s fall conference, said he wants the administrators to be there when deals are negotiated with companies.
“We’re going to ask you to travel more than you have in the past and ask you to become more of a partner in the process. We talk about everything else in the world in these sessions, but when it comes to training, we spend hours on that,” he said.
“We’re going to ask you to become a recruiter because you’re the best salesmen we’ve ever had.”
Riley’s presentation was enthusiastically received by the 30 or so college presidents and administrators at the meeting Tuesday, several of whom said they were “excited” by their increased recruiting duties.
“His remarks were on target,” Reed State Technical College President Douglas M. Littles said after Riley’s session.
“Like everybody else, I’m excited about the emphasis being placed on the two-year college system’s role in work force development and I think we are in a unique position to have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for Alabamians.”
The post-secondary system includes 21 community colleges, five technical colleges, a senior college and the Alabama Industrial Development Training Institute.
The system has about 150 career/technical training programs and Riley said he wants legislators to appropriate money for a multimillion-dollar robotics center that would be the first of its kind in the country.
There are also talks about a new plant in Mobile that will use new methods to build ships.
Gadsden State Community College President Renee Culverhouse said the conference, which started Sunday and included talks from representatives with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, was “encouraging.”
“We’re going to continue the automotive. We want to expand with the shipbuilding in Mobile, we want to get into biotech and anything else that wants to come here,” said Culverhouse, who twice served as the system’s interim chancellor before Bradley Byrne was hired this spring.
“We want to be able to go with the governor and be an active partner in recruiting new industries so that we can say to the industries we’re recruiting: ‘Tell us what kind of workers you need and we’ll tell you what we can do to train them.’ ”
Riley urged the presidents to look forward, embrace change and “leave the past behind” as the system gets to the point where other states say they “want to be as good as Alabama.”
“Other states are trying to replicate what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ll always be a target. But that doesn’t mean they can catch us.”
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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