University of Gondar, Ethiopia, and its counterpart in the USA, University of Montana, officially agreed recently to facilitate mutual friendship, enhance academic research, and have educational cooperation, as recognized on the memorandum of understanding signed between the two institutions through their respective presidents: Prof. Mengesha Admassu of UoG, and Dr. Royce C. Engstrom, of UM.
Universities can play instrumental role in responding to the rapidly shifting economic, political and national security realities and challenges facing the world today. Presently, Higher education institutions, regardless of their country of origin, are required to produce true, globally competent, exemplary scholars that the current worldwide market seeks. To this end, nations or higher learning institutions are obliged to eliminate the usual domestic-student- Ghettoization trend which is in place in most worldwide contexts. In other words, in the current global market graduates are expected to be well-equipped with such necessary skills as: ability to work effectively in international settings, awareness and adaptability to diverse cultures, perceptions and approaches; capacity for effective communication across cultural and linguistic boundaries, e.t.c.
In this regard, UoG boasts a long tradition of international cooperation and exchange of scientific knowledge, during which its comprehensive range of education, research, and outreach activities were harnessing both internal and external partners, stakeholders, and the community, since its inception as a public health college and training center in 1954. However today, UoG is well aware of the need for advancing research, deepening collaborations, and supporting scholarships to meet the type, quality, and quantity of input and output that the contemporary global century is demanding in all the three areas of its engagement. Besides, as it is a higher education institution in a developing nation, UoG reaps benefits from academic and non academic cooperation, and it is highly committed to exhibit solidarity and participate in global development. The overall context in Ethiopia, and of the University in particular: the rich mosaic of domestic culture, language, and natural diversity are among the opportunities providing readily resources frequently overlooked by partners from overseas.
Taking this into account, Uog has recently been seriously engaged in advanced efforts for realizing the above mentioned goals. The recent official agreement that UoG made with University of Montana is a showcase for its dedicated motive on the matter.
The conception of the linkage between the two universities emanated from personal initiatives of two Ethiopians: Dr.Waganesh Abeje who was a fellow student by then in UM, and Dr. Yemataw, Wondie of UoG, dated back in May 2013. Dr. Yemataw had a visit in Montana and other universities in the USA, on October 2014. He had also paper presentations on three topics: “child trauma”, “ road traffic accident”, “ clinical psychology in Ethiopia and Gondar” . Following his visit, two visiting professors from Montana, husband and wife, namely Prof. Lynne Koester and Mr. Otto Koester were in UoG offering different courses for our students. These all driven growing interest among the faculty of both universities to reach to the official partnership agreement signed recently, in UoG’s Senate hall.
During the occasion, brief overviews of the respective universities, and ideas on possible collaborations were first presented to the audiences attending the event. The objectives of the agreement include: facilitating mutual friendship, academic research, and educational cooperation. All the necessary preconditions and terms of the partnership are spelt out on the memorandum of understanding signed.
The added value of this new agreement at the institutional level is the framework the agreement provides, not only for strengthening the existing collaboration vertically and horizontally, but also for exploring new projects, such as the establishment of joint research centers and an exchange programs for faculty and researchers. For instance, the agreement has a potential of creating a community of interest, enhanced shared vision, development of mutually acceptable institutional mechanisms, win-win projects on the ground.
Even before the agreement, the first MA student from Montana was here in UoG, Nutrition department, and returned home after completion of her field work. This partnership is one exited about and believed to be committed to by both institutions. Through this relationship our two universities will provide more opportunities for farther strengthening their mutual interests. Department of Psychology in UoG has already established successful relationships with their UM counterparts. As a result, at the end of May this year, two-weeks training will be offered by professors from UM on mental health that will be hosted by UoG.
The delegate visiting professors who were here facilitating the signing process of the MOU: Dr. Chris Fiore and Dr. Jenny McNulty also had public lectures on the next themes: “game based teaching on binary numbers”, “motivational interviewing”, and “clinical psychology in Montana”.
During the occasion, Prof. Mengesha Admassu, the president from UoG’s side passed a message directed to the entire faculty of the university through the representative heads of the various departments attending the MOU signing process: “The racing track is already laid, hereafter it is up to each faculty of the university to run on this track and move this partnership agreement forward”.
Vice Director, International relations
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