Monday, December 2, 2013

A Global University

What does it mean to be a global university?  The answer depends on the institution to which the question is directed, and the responses will likely vary substantially.  Multiple campuses located in different countries, significant enrollments of international students, numerous partnerships and exchange agreements, or multinational research collaborations may all be defining elements of a “global” university.
There’s another way to assess a university’s global status and impact.  Specifically, we can examine what members of the University of Rhode Island community – faculty, students, and (importantly) alumni – are actually doing across the world. A selection of recent events provides some powerful examples of the scope and impact of the University of Rhode Island’s global engagement.
One of highlights of this year’s Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremony on October 25th was the presentation to Toray Plastics (America) of the President’s Corporate Award.  This award was created to honor exceptional corporate partners of the University of Rhode Island. TPA is a major Rhode Island manufacturer, a major supporter of URI, and a company that annually provides numerous internships for our students and has many URI alumni within its ranks.  TPA is a subsidiary of Toray – a Japan based global manufacturing company. The current chairman of Toray, Dr. Sadayuki Sakakibara was awarded an honorary degree from URI in 2010.  Now we are working with Rick Schloesser (CEO of TPA) and Dr. Sakakibara to explore the possibility of a Japanese International Engineering Program.  Toray has made substantial investments in the University of Rhode Island and its students. At the Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremony, Mr. Schloesser announced a $2 million gift to support the College of Engineering.

Also honored that night with Presidential or Deans’ Awards (among many others, see were: Eric Ryan, ’96, co-founder of Method Products, a global company and previous recipient of the Clinton Global Citizenship Award; James Clappin. ’80, President of Corning Glass Technologies, a division of Corning based in Japan and South Korea; Gellwynn D. H. Jusuf (MS ’89, PhD ’97), Director General of Capture Fisheries, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Republic of Indonesia; and Mohammed Al-Sultan (PhD ’03), Director of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.

URI students certainly have a remarkable global presence as well.  Just check out the story on the University of Rhode Island home page entitled “Put Languages to Work”. As a further example, this fall I enjoyed meeting with four URI students studying at the Hochschule for Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences): Nick Smith, Sara Watson, and Pat Mullen (all students in our International Business Program) and Dan Belbey ’13, who received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his Master’s in Business Administration and Logistics at Hamburg.  And we should not forget Megan O’Brien ’12, who is finishing up her Master’s at URI and received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a second graduate degree at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Iceland, or Eily Cournoyer ’13, who won a Fulbright to study at the Cancer Institute of University College, London.  There are dozens and dozens of more examples.
Of course, these outstanding global achievements by our alumni and students are facilitated and empowered by the faculty of the University of Rhode Island, whose impact, influence, and contributions truly span the globe.  When I mention this to members of our external constituencies and partners, the research and outreach of the Graduate School of Oceanography, the Coastal Resources Center, and the Coastal Institute typically come immediately to mind, but the faculties of all URI’s colleges and departments are globally engaged – in research and scholarship, education, and service.  In recognition of this fact, we have added a new link to our navigation bar – GLOBAL – just above the featured image on URI’s homepage. Check it out; what you will find there is a great demonstration of what it means to be a global university.