The Academy for Municipal Innovation’s first graduating class

Earlier this evening, the first class of the Academy for Municipal Innovation graduated in the DEC Forum. The Academy, a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia University, is an educational endeavor designed to educate municipal employees about innovation strategies that they will be able to apply to their professional work, aiding Mayor Nutter’s commitment to municipal innovation and progress. Below are the remarks I gave to the graduating class.

I am humbled to stand before the servant leaders of Philadelphia’s municipal government. Your pioneering effort to learn and implement the craft of innovation and apply it to the governance of the City of Philadelphia inaugurates a new meaning of public employee.

Philadelphia University (your namesake institution of higher learning) believes that innovation is no longer a competitive advantage, but rather it is a required core competency for individuals and organizations.

For too long, society has seen innovation as the purview of the private sector. Worse yet, society has believed it should be practiced only via the development of technology, and maybe just in choice regions like Silicon Valley and Boston’s 128 corridor.

Over the last 8 weeks you have shattered that false perception by taking the challenge to think and act differently. You are armed with the intellectual skills and tools to be “critical doers” for the common good.

It is a noble cause. More important… deep thought, decisive action and innovative solutions are a necessity if our great cities are to prosper.

We are fortunate to have a city leadership committed to bold action around innovation and change combined with Philadelphia University’s distinctive approach to innovation education.

With your leadership comes responsibility.

As qualified and supported agents of change, Mayor Nutter and his team have worked to make Philadelphia a model for innovation; sustainability; and industry, academic and government collaboration. And they have empowered you.

The results, big and small, will be chronicled and this effort will flourish… if you have the stamina to take the challenge.

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Letter to the Editor: The Academic Vanguard on the Defensive

Below is a Letter to the Editor I wrote in response to Barton Swaim’s book review of Helen Smalls’ The Value of the Humanities; the review was published in The Wall Street Journal on February 14. You can read Mr. Swaim’s review here (note that you must be subscribed to The Wall Street Journal in order to view the content).

It is antithetical to argue for the humanities leadership position in education by writing a book for academics involved in the humanities. That is akin to asking the accused to vote on the verdict. Ms. Small might consider using her rhetoric to convince the students and their parents of the value of the humanities. More important, both Ms. Small and Mr. Swaim imply that the humanities and non-humanities disciplines are mutually exclusive. I believe that is a false dichotomy. One discipline does not make a curriculum. The careful construction of pedagogy and content includes a transdisciplinary approach, requiring professional education and the humanities be woven together in a holistic approach to discovery, articulation and innovation.

Stephen Spinelli, Jr, Ph.D.
Philadelphia University
Philadelphia, PA

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Pew Research Center: Millennials who graduate college earn significantly more than those who do not attend college

A Pew Research Center analysis of Census data, along with a Pew survey (discussed here), found that the Millennial generation — those between ages 25 and 32 — has a wider earnings gap between high-school graduates and college graduates than previous generations. The median income for millennial college graduates, in 2012 dollars, was $45,500, compared with $28,000 for high-school graduates.

“For Millennials, the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president, special projects, at the Pew Research Center and an author of the paper.

Mr. Taylor said, “It’s really that today’s young adults who didn’t go beyond high school are doing much worse than their similarly educated counterparts” in earlier generations.

Even young people who had to borrow to pay for college are more satisfied with their career progress and prospects than high-school graduates without debt, Mr. Taylor said.

College remains one of the best investments that students — whether traditional, college-age students or returning adults — can make to achieve upward mobility through an enhanced career path. The Pew survey is “an affirmation that the group who went to college thinks it has been a good investment.”