U alum Margaret (Peggy) Lucas contributes both to the economy and the quality of life in Minnesota as the founder of Twin Cities-based Brighton Development Corporation.
U survey shows broad alumni impact
Survey results, governor's proclamation recognize impact
of U alumni on the state and nation
By Jim Thorp
Oct. 30, 2006
Whether they're creating jobs or scholarships, winning local elections or international awards, University of Minnesota alumni are making a difference--and what better time than homecoming to honor their achievements?
The University's recent Connecting With Our Alumni survey revealed that U of M graduates system-wide make key contributions to the economy and quality of life in every county in Minnesota, all 50 states and 63 foreign countries. For example, of the 75,000 survey respondents:
- A total of 14,801 have founded approximately 19,000 companies worldwide, employing 1.1 million people.
- Of those, 7,383 have founded roughly
10,000 companies in Minnesota, employing
half a million people.
"These numbers confirm what we've always suspected: the University produces people who make an unparalleled contribution to a healthy business climate," U President Robert Bruininks says. "When you combine the ingenuity of our students with the high quality academic programs we're able to offer them, you get a great university that is moving our state, region and the nation forward."
And alumni achievement isn't limited to bottom-line contributions. Of those who responded to the survey:
- 10 percent have earned national or international accolades, including academic recognition, Olympic medals, humanitarian awards and military honors.
- 78 percent do volunteer work, and one in 14 has served in elected office.
- 37 percent have led charity organizations, and 23 percent have served on for- and non-profit boards.
- 1,154 own patents, including eight who own more than 200 each.
These accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Governor Tim Pawlenty has declared Saturday, Nov. 4, to be University of Minnesota Alumni Day (467 K PDF), and University officials are using the week of homecoming on the Twin Cities campus to begin a communications push to share the achievements of outstanding U alumni throughout the region.
"Minnesota is hands-down the best place in the world to be. ... You need to be where you can hire the best people, and there's a great pool of talent in this area," says Brian Brockway.
Margaret (Peggy) Lucas is one such alum. She founded Brighton Development Corporation, a Twin Cities company focused on urban housing for people at all income levels and the winner of a 2004 National Preservation Honor Award for its work on the Mill City Museum complex in Minneapolis.
"The University is truly the engine that drives the economy of this state," says Lucas, who earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University. "Some states have many research universities. We have only one, and I think the U is going to mean even more to the future of this state with increased globalization, its advances in research, and our knowledge economy."
The U attracts talented people to Minnesota, many of whom choose to stay. Consider that:
>> 60 percent of University alumni live in Minnesota, serving local communities.
>> 53 percent of survey respondents have spent their careers in Minnesota.
>> 60 percent of alumni-founded companies are Minnesota companies, generating $100 billion in annual revenue.
In fact, 872 respondents said they:
>> moved to Minnesota to attend the U and
>> founded a Minnesota company that is currently still in business and
>> chose to remain in Minnesota to live and work.
Sources: Connecting With Our Alumni survey, Carlson School of Management alumni survey and Institute of Technology (IT) alumni survey
IT alum and Transoma Medical founder Brian Brockway agrees. "Running a business is really all about creative problem solving," he says. "For our type of business, Minnesota is hands-down the best place in the world to be. When technology and innovation are such a big piece of the business, you need to be where you can hire the best people, and there's a great pool of talent in this area."
The Connecting With Our Alumni study was the largest survey of graduates from all University campuses. More than 300,000 alumni received the survey, which ran from January to May of this year. The 51,133 survey responses were combined with those from similar surveys administered independently by the Carlson School of Management (2005) and IT (2004). The total number of alumni surveyed--from all three surveys--was around 385,000, of which 19 percent responded.
"This survey has provided the most complete picture to date of the many and varied ways U alumni are making a difference in our world," Bruininks says. "Ultimately, it will allow us to forge stronger ties between our graduates and their alma mater, a relationship that is critical to meeting our aspiration to be among the top public research universities in the world. Our sincere thanks to all who participated."
For additional results, analysis, alumni profiles and interactive state maps showing economic impact by county and ZIP code, visit the Connecting With Our Alumni site.
The entrepreneurial spirit of IT alumni also has had a deep impact on the economies of the state, nation and world. (Winter 2006)
Lucas scales lofty heights of success
Peggy Lucas focuses on preservation of urban spaces that others have given up for dead. (Summer 2004)
Carlson School survey highlights economic impact
Approximately 3,257 Carlson alumni-founded companies exist around the world today, with roughly 1,800 in Minnesota. (Winter 2006)
IT alums spur Minnesota economy
Investing in the U's Institute of Technology yields returns for the state of Minnesota. (Spring 2005)
U of M Alumni Association Great Alumni List
Giving Makes Greatness Possible