Dyer Center Board Seeks to Prepare Students for an ‘Innovation-Based Economy’
By Colin McEvoy on September 3, 2021
Acceleration of change in the marketplace has increased the importance of collaboration between higher education and industry, and so Lafayette College’s Dyer Center is seeking to better align educational efforts with the needs of Lehigh Valley employers.
This has led to the formation of the Dyer Center Innovation Advisory Board, which also seeks to strengthen the Lehigh Valley’s talent pipeline and ensure that Lafayette students are best prepared to tackle the significant challenges facing our communities and industries.
“A lot of the effort at the Dyer Center is to make sure every Lafayette student is prepared to compete in an innovation-based economy,” said Yusuf Dahl, Executive Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Dyer Center.
“We want to make sure every Lafayette student, particularly first-generation low-income students of color, are able to have access to the phenomenal opportunities that exist, not only in New York City or Washington, D.C., but here in the Lehigh Valley,” Dahl said. “And we want to make sure our region has access to the best and most diverse talent base possible.”
The board includes members representing companies from a wide range of industries and sectors across the Lehigh Valley, and will work to connect Lafayette College students with local leaders who are driving innovation for their respective companies.
It will also encourage business leaders to contribute to educational curricula to help prepare students for the workforce, as well as to provide hands-on training, projects, internships, and mentoring for Lafayette students.
“We’re just getting started, but we’ve been able to draft senior business leaders form prominent companies that represent diversity in all ways: diversity of company and industry, diversity of function, and diversity of person,” said Eric Luftig, managing partner of EBL Consulting, who serves on the board and helped form it. “We are fortunate to have assembled a great group of leaders that see the value in what Yusef and the Dyer Center are doing.”
In addition to Luftig, other board members include:
- Wayne Barz, Chief Investment Officer for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
- Christopher Donigan, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at B. Braun Medical
- Robert Kruklitis, Vice President of Transformation at Lehigh Valley Health Network
- Ken Parks, Vice President fo Engineering & Technology at Victaulic
- Steph Raymond, President of PPL Electric Utilities
- Kim Rompilla, Senior Vice President of Crayola
- Chris Weiler, CEO for Weiler Abrasives
Individuals and companies interested in becoming involved with the Dyer Center Innovation Advisory Board may contact Dahl at [email protected].
The board aims to dispel the myth for students that opportunities exist only in major cities and let them know about the opportunities available closer to home, while also teaching students to think like entrepreneurs and get practical hands-on experience in the first two years of college, rather than waiting until their junior or senior years for internships to be offered.
Board members will serve two-year renewable terms, with two council meetings per year. The board first met in May and will meet again in October, Dahl said.
The Dyer Center implements several student-focused activities aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. These co-curricular programs offer students opportunities to extend knowledge and skills out of the classroom, coupled with the liberal art education offered at Lafayette College.
The mission of the Dyer Center Innovation Advisory Board aligns closely with that of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and its Education and Talent Supply Council, a partnership of Lehigh Valley educational institutions, major employers, and organizations focused on creating strategies that help the region maintain a competitive workforce and talent supply.
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