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Bring the Chisholm Trail Back

Editorial in the May 16, 2008, issue of the Austin Business Journal.

Let’s start talking about the Chisholm Trail Corridor  By Jake B. Schrum

When I worked at Emory University in Atlanta in the 1980s, there was a major city street that ran through a significant part of the campus. On either side of Clifton Road were major institutions within the Emory System. These included the Emory School of Medicine, the Woodruff School of Nursing, the Dental School, the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University Hospital, the Emory Clinic and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Also in the area were Atlanta’s leading children’s hospital, a geriatric hospital, a veteran’s hospital, a huge research facility and a major primate center, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society headquarters.  

Because of their genuine significance as individual centers of excellence and economic growth, they all wanted to be the first among equals on Clifton Road. Sensing this competition and realizing that they all possessed a common mission of better healthcare, the president of Emory began to refer to this vast array of medical and research facilities as the Clifton Corridor. What a difference that made.  

Instead of constantly vying for position and influence, each institution began to believe that they were playing a significant role in the medical research and healthcare needs of people from cradle to grave. Each could begin to describe the distinctive role they were contributing to the comprehensive delivery of healthcare and the constant discovery of knowledge that would enhance healthcare. 

Is this similar to some of our challenges in the San Antonio/Austin corridor? Don’t we have many fine institutions, businesses, research centers, historical destinations and fine arts venues vying for attention? When the moniker to describe our efforts toward collaboration has to begin with the name of one city or the other, doesn’t that create a competitive tension from the beginning? 

Let’s start talking about the Chisholm Trail Corridor. After all, this description includes all of us without emphasizing one or the other. Not to mention the fact that people driving cattle on the Chisholm Trail faced some of the same issues we face today: They were looking for water, always trying to improve their transportation routes, and were concerned with economic sustainability, jobs and efforts to improve the common lot for everyone, just to name a few.  

We are all a part of the Chisholm Trail Corridor. We can celebrate our strengths, deal with our differences and meet our challenges if we believe and act like we are in this together.  

Jake B. Schrum is president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.