Immigration policy panel gives national perspective

How can national policies leading to the deportation of professionals with degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields affect business majors?

"The STEM grads are the people who come up with innovations and ideas and products," RU student Donald Jones said. "The business students are the ones who often help them make those ideas a success."

For a project in Management Professor Bruce Brown's organizational behavior and organizational development course, Jones and fellow student Suzanne Stoffel teamed to conduct research and develop an avenue to help business majors understand how national policies can prevent STEM majors from staying in the United States and how those policies can affect the business majors' futures.

Immigration panel

Panel participants and organizers, from left, are Shawn Utt, Basiil Edwards, John White, Donald Jones, Orion Rogers, Suzanne Stoffel, Alan Hawthorne and Joseph Yost.

After months of preparation, the project culminated May 8 in a panel discussion presented in class and open to the public.

Jones and Stoffel invited panelists including Virginia Del. Joseph Yost '06, M.A. '08; Basil Edwards, City of Radford economic development director; Shawn Utt, Pulaski County economic development director; John White, Town of Pulaski economic development director; Alan Hawthorne, director of the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County; and Orion Rogers, dean of RU's College of Science and Technology.

"We wanted to have panelists who could give us a perspective on the national, state and local levels," said Jones, an entrepreneur and military veteran who is pursuing an undergraduate business degree at RU. "Delegate Yost has a really good grasp of what the Virginia Assembly is doing and the impact it has locally."

In researching the topic, Jones said, he found studies suggesting that for each STEM graduate who starts a business, between two and a half and five jobs outside the STEM areas are created to support that business.

"We want our business students to understand that every time a STEM grad is deported, that's about five of them who might not have a job when they graduate," Jones explained. "That's why they should get involved with these issues, both locally and the university level.

Jones said the project was well received by his classmates, RU professors and the panelists. He also received positive feedback, he said, from individuals who saw coverage of the event on local TV news.

"The feedback has been far above and beyond what I expected," Jones said.

The impact of the event also exceeded Jones's expectations, he said, and he hopes the event will inspire changes in policy that will allow international STEM graduates to stay in the United States.

"Personally, I want to see RU graduates stay in this area, start their businesses here," Jones said. "That's how we're going to grow the economy."

Brown agreed. "All of us as citizens in this country have a responsibility to become more aware of these issues," he said at the conclusion of the panel discussion.

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May 21, 2013
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761