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Testimony on Behalf of HB 12-1144

February 29, 2012

by Douglas Duncan

Members of the Legislature:

I’m Dr. Doug Duncan.  I’ve done teaching and research at CU Boulder for 10 years.

I spent 10 years on the staff of the Hubble Space Telescope, and 10 years outside of academia, running the programs of a major museum.  I’ve hired and fired lots of people, and managed multi-million dollar budgets.

The bill before you has a potential economic impact on Colorado, and it’s a positive one.  You want more jobs in CO in the future?  What kind of jobs?  If you want more minimum wage jobs, you don’t need higher education.  But if you want IBM jobs, Lockheed jobs, Google jobs – high paying jobs that build the state economy, you do.  To prepare students for THOSE jobs, I have to make them work hard.  That’s not always popular, and it takes a few years to see the results from hard work.  Would you hire a football coach on a one year contract?  Why not?  Because it takes more than one year to build up a good program, and it takes time before you see the results.  The same is true for people like me, who teach Colorado’s future work force.  A multi-year contract means better results.

I grew up in California, when Silicon Valley was filled with trees, and apple was a fruit. Now it’s a company worth $465B – worth more than Exxon.   You don’t need resources in the ground to create the best jobs;  you need the best-educated people.   Last year I was selected the best college teacher in the United States in my field of science.  This bill would let me do a better job.

And – it would save money!  Surveys show that non-tenured faculty value stability as much or more than a raise.

Recently I took 100 Coloradans on a trip to China.  While there we visited private Chinese families, with a translator.  One Chinese mother asked me, “Why do you Americans want to spend all your money now? Why don’t you invest it in the future, like we Chinese do?  We want good jobs for our children.”

This bill is strategic.  It builds the loyalty of the best employees, which is good for any company, and it positions us to train the best future workforce.

Thank you.

Dr. Douglas Duncan


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