Common ground across the Atlantic Ocean
With a Memorandum of Understanding, signed on Jan. 30, the University of St. Thomas and the UK’s University of Huddersfield have taken the first step to forging a close working relationship. The memorandum signals that the two universities agree to work together on multiple activities.
Dr. Susan Huber, executive vice president and provost, signed the document for St. Thomas. Senior administrators see benefits for both universities.
“I think there is common ground between the two universities. We certainly both have a common interest in advancing science, technology and engineering to make a better world for all of us,” Huber commented. “I would say Huddersfield, having had its origins as a technical university, has certainly advanced in areas of science and technology beyond the University of St. Thomas. So their expertise provides an opportunity for us to move forward. And we have things to offer them. For example, we have built relationships and networks with people and corporations in the science and industry arena in the U.S. Huddersfield sees that as a cutting-edge initiative.”
Huddersfield’s Professor Liz Towns-Andrews, who was instrumental in developing the relationship with St. Thomas, said on that university’s website, “I believe we can learn a lot from one another as the two institutions have lots of complementary activities.”
Huber estimates that within the next few weeks the universities will decide on which direction to go in the partnership. “We’re heading toward collaborative activities in the science-technology-engineering area to begin with,” she said.
According to Huber and Dr. Eleni Roulis, associate vice president for academic services and special programs, the process of forming the ties with Huddersfield has been in the works for two years. It began with a visit of Huddersfield senior administrators to 3M in St. Paul and to the St. Thomas campus, and follow-up correspondence between Roulis and Towns-Andrews.
The visits were initiated by former St. Thomas Board of Trustees member George Buckley, a Huddersfield alumnus and a former CEO of 3M. (Huddersfield is home to the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.)
“Bob Cryan, Huddersfield's vice chancellor, and Liz Towns-Andrews came to visit 3M, and George Buckley said to them you have to see St. Thomas. There are all sorts of things that go on there that you might be interested in. It would be good for you to get to know some of those folks,” Huber recalled.
"I think they clearly saw avenues for moving forward with the faculty research, and that was the beginning,” she added.
Education was seen as another area of exchange, Roulis said: “Not just a student exchange but an actual curriculum-faculty exchange, where we look at what makes a good global teacher. So we looked at topics but we also looked at questions that would be favorable and open to both institutions.”
The next step in the partnership, Huber noted, will likely be to seek a joint science-engineering grant that will foster work on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Both Huber and Roulis visited Huddersfield during the last week in January to learn more about the university and to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.