The following is a response to President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address written by Jeffrey Stanton, Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Programs & Associate Professor here at the iSchool.

In his 2011 state of the union speech, President Barack Obama said, “Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success.  But if we want to win the future — if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas — then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” The iSchool at Syracuse University has run its degree programs with these goals in mind for a whole generation now. That’s one of the reasons that our undergraduates have the highest starting salaries of any school or college here at Syracuse: the education that our students receive prepares them for high value, high demand jobs in U.S. organizations.

Our faculty has recognized that the typically glacial pace of change in higher education represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Syracuse and the iSchool. Higher education must adapt more rapidly to a changing world, and Syracuse stands poised to be a leader in adaptability and innovation. While other universities take years to develop new curriculum and degree programs, the iSchool has recently begun working on a configurable educational program in “Information Innovation.” When fully approved, this program will provide a platform for our professors to prototype new topics emerging from industry, government, and education – with social media technologies as one recent example. The Chancellor’s Kauffman Enitiative award, ably run by the iSchool’s Professor Bruce Kingma, has provided an ongoing source of inspiration that our faculty have used to energize new course and program development for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students.

At this point, I fear I just can’t resist putting in a pitch for my recent book, Information Nation. This book explains how the information professions fit into the world economy, and describes how students in our field can recession-proof their jobs and careers upon graduation. They key, as President Obama suggested in his speech, lies in building a core of relevant and valuable skills along with an attitude of adaptability and a love for lifelong learning – all values that the iSchool and its faculty try to promote.