Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > How Wayne State University Helps Attract and Retain Talent in Michigan

How Wayne State University Helps Attract and Retain Talent in Michigan

January 12, 2024

Key takeaways

  • Espy states that investment in post-secondary education in Michigan impacts Detroit’s societal and economic well-being. 
  • As a major public research university, Wayne State’s collection of innovation initiatives drive research discoveries and talent growth, especially in health care.
  • From her experience in Texas, Espy feels that Detroit would benefit from a multi-faceted approach to population growth rather than viewing it as solely a government or business issue.  

View the session recording below.

During the 2024 Detroit Policy Conference, Wayne State University President Kimberly Espy talked with WXYZ-TV Evening New Anchor Carolyn Clifford about the university’s community-driven initiatives and how this investment by institutions such as Wayne State can assist in attracting and retaining talent in the state.  

Investment in Post-Secondary Education

Espy emphasized the transformative power of investing in post-secondary education, citing the societal benefits beyond individual success and how it can positively impact the city of Detroit and its residents. She pointed out that citizens with college degrees are more likely to engage in voting and childcare, contributing to a healthier and more engaged society.  

Additionally, Espy highlighted Michigan’s ambitious goal of achieving a 60% education attainment rate, stressing the importance of higher education in the 21st-century economy. From this, she notes that institutions such as Wayne State need to have a holistic approach to attracting students and “… open doors to many who have been chronically underserved historically … and underrepresented in higher education [like] moms going back to school or folks who are pursuing their degrees and to upscale or get promoted.”  

She praises the university’s diverse student body and faculty and the unique challenges they overcome, making Wayne State a beacon of inclusivity and opportunity. 

Collaboration and Career Readiness

Espy underscored the importance of collaboration between the university and the community, emphasizing Wayne State’s location in the heart of Detroit as a strategic advantage. She highlighted the significance of students gaining real-world experiences through internships, job shadows, and engagement with alums, fostering career readiness. The emphasis on lifelong learning and adaptability to the changing job landscape was also stressed as crucial for success in the 21st century.  

While these collaborative opportunities exist, President Espy acknowledged the concerns about the cost of college and student loans that could place a barrier on Detroiters. However, she emphasized that college is a valuable investment in one’s future and discussed the efforts made by Wayne State to increase accessibility, with 55% of the incoming class attending college tuition-free, challenging the notion that college isn’t financially feasible. 

Related: Detroit Promise’s Tuition-free Paths for Detroit High School Seniors 

Wayne State’s Impact on Health and Innovation

Espy also mentioned Wayne State’s significant role in healthcare, boasting the largest single-campus medical school in the country, and that around 40% of physicians in Michigan have ties to Wayne State.  

Wayne State’s role in fostering economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship was discussed, mentioning TechTown Detroit’s impact on creating businesses and jobs. Espy emphasized the broader impact on the city’s vibrancy, making it attractive for young professionals seeking educational and economic opportunities. 

Drawing lessons from her experience in Texas, Espy highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts between government, industry, and education in business attraction. She also emphasized the need to showcase Michigan’s unique strengths, particularly its workforce and people, as critical assets for growth. 

Read more from Espy in the latest Detroiter issue: The Warrior Way Forward: A Q&A With Wayne State President Kimberly Andrews Espy