Representatives from Mount Kenya University visited Clarke University this week, checking out the community and the university as part of a new partnership between the institutions. A goal of the partnership is to develop student and faculty exchanges, as well as to develop research collaborations and classroom exchanges.
“It opens the world up to our students is what it boils down to,” said Susan Burns, Clarke’s vice president for academic affairs. “We are very interested in our students being globally and inter-culturally engaged, so it gives our students the opportunity to learn more about themselves and others.”
Officials from Clarke and Mount Kenya University, located in Thika, Kenya, recently signed an agreement solidifying the partnership. Delegates from the Kenyan university spent Thursday getting to know Dubuque and Friday getting to know Clarke.
“My work is to provide the leadership (and) the vision, and to make sure the resources are there to make it happen,” said Simon N. Gicharu, founder and chairman of the board of directors at Mount Kenya University. Gicharu noted that his school is just 20 years old, so it is important to be able to learn from a school like Clarke.
Other area schools also benefit from international partnerships. The University of Dubuque has agreements allowing for student exchanges in Ireland and Denmark. UD is also part of a consortium of schools in the U.S., Europe and Russia, through which teachers and students can study abroad.
“I think any time that we add different voices and different experiences to our university, then that’s going to make the experience of our domestic students better, as well as our international students,” said Phyllis Garfield, director of international student services and study abroad at UD. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has partnerships with schools around the world, allowing for student and faculty exchanges and other collaborative opportunities.
“Having students from other countries coming here on exchange, they are in the classroom with our students, they are making friendships with our students, they are helping internationalize our campus,” said Donna Anderson, director of international programs at the university.
Clarke has partnerships that allow for student exchanges in various countries, as well as study-abroad opportunities around the world, Burns said. “We live in a world that is so connected and interconnected that (students) have to be aware of who they are in the context of the larger world,” she said.
By James Wakahiu