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Marilyn Higgins named vice president for community engagement and economic impact at Syracuse University
Marilyn Higgins named vice president for community engagement and economic impact at Syracuse UniversitySeptember 14, 2007Kevin C. Quinnkcquinn@syr.edu
Marilyn Higgins has been named vice president for community engagement and economic impact at Syracuse University, effective Oct. 15. In this newly created position, Higgins will report to Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina and work closely with administrative and academic leaders at the University.
The primary thrust of Higgins’ responsibilities will be implementation and fulfillment of externally funded, university-community projects. In this role, she will work with a cross-University team from Academic Affairs, Government and Community Relations, Public Affairs, Engagement Initiatives, and Corporate and Foundation Relations to advance key community engagement projects, including the Near Westside Arts, Technology and Design Quarter, the Connective Corridor, the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) and the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. Teaming with Bruce Kingma, associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation, on implementation of the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative (Enitiative), Higgins will help facilitate collaboration of students, faculty and the University’s community partners at each of these sites. She will also work with the University community to identify future engagement initiatives, the best places to create them, and opportunities for new external support.
In her most recent position, Higgins served as vice president for economic development at National Grid; she brings to the new position substantial experience in economic development, community collaboration and coalition-building. That background — combined with Higgins’ already-existing collaborative role in many of the University’s high-profile community engagement projects — makes her uniquely suited for the position.
For example, Higgins serves as president of Near Westside Initiative Inc. — a community coalition in which SU is a partner — that is working to create an Arts, Technology and Design Quarter on Syracuse’s Near Westside. In this role, she has helped secure significant external support. Among the University leaders with whom she has worked in this role are Dean of the School of Architecture Mark Robbins, University College Dean Bea Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence Edward Bogucz and Mark Barone, SU senior director of engagement initiatives.
Higgins is also a board member of the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative (Enitiative), which is funded by a five-year grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Higgins was the lead corporate/community member of the team that successfully presented Syracuse’s proposal to the foundation.
Additionally, she has led National Grid’s collaborative efforts with SU on three other key engagement projects — the Connective Corridor, the South Side Innovation Center and the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems.
“Marilyn’s qualifications are perfect for this position. Her relationships with local and regional corporations, foundations, government and community leaders, and her work with SU faculty and administrators in recent years, makes her an invaluable asset,” says Spina. “I know that, in partnership with Bruce Kingma, our deans and other academic leaders, she will leverage new areas and resources that will result in additional research and experiential learning opportunities for our faculty and students. The addition of Marilyn is another step in the University’s efforts — through our vision of Scholarship in Action — to create unique engagement opportunities for students and faculty that build on our longstanding strengths and ideals. Beyond their inherent value, these engagement efforts, many of which are funded externally, are also important to the continued revitalization of our city, which in turn has many long-term benefits for our University.”
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to join Syracuse University and continue the successful and productive collaborations we’ve built with our partners across the city and region,” Higgins says. “I am energized by the students, faculty, new ideas and great opportunities for Syracuse that are inherent in the University’s commitment to Scholarship in Action.”
As vice president for economic development at National Grid, Higgins planned, directed and implemented the economic development strategy of the corporation in New York and was responsible for attracting new business investment and jobs into the corporation’s 37-county upstate New York service territory. Working collaboratively with federal, state and local government officials and regional public and private development entities, Higgins provided leadership, strategy and resources for the revitalization of upstate New York communities. She managed a multi-million-dollar economic development fund and supervised a team of economic development professionals engaged in marketing, national and international business recruitment, site development and community renewal.
Prior to her tenure at National Grid, Higgins, a native of Syracuse, served as executive vice president of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the CNY Private Industry Council and director of grants and institutional research and planning at Onondaga Community College.
Higgins currently sits on the boards of Albany’s Center for Economic Growth, the Buffalo-Niagara Enterprise, the Connective Corridor, the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, the New York State Economic Development Council, the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative, the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, the Morrisville College Foundation, the Onondaga Historical Association, St. Lucy’s Parish Council and the American Cancer Society’s regional advisory council.
Higgins is a recipient of the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Achievement Award for Civic Leadership, the CNY Regional Planning and Development Agency’s Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award, Girls Inc.’s Spirit of American Women Award and the Alumni of Distinction Award from the State University of New York.