Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson led a delegation from the Institute to Africa, March 14 to March 22, to expand its collaborations in the region. Delegation members met with academic, scientific, business and government leaders in South Africa and Ghana to discuss capacity-building opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
“Through the exchange of people and ideas, across geographic and cultural boundaries, we will work to enhance opportunities to address the key energy, health, and environmental challenges of our time,” President Jackson said in announcing the trip. “To expand Rensselaer’s global reach and impact, we will sign a cooperative exchange agreement with the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and discuss future partnerships with other science and technology focused universities in South Africa and Ghana.”
Rensselaer is embarking on a five-year program of cross-cultural collaboration in science and engineering research, education, and development in Africa. The Institute will bring its hallmark experiential learning programs to these universities through cooperative student projects, student exchanges, and research education initiatives for faculty and administrators. These emerging partnerships also will enhance the Rensselaer “REACH” program, a new initiative that ultimately will require all of its students to have an international experience as a requirement for graduation.
President Jackson secured a gift of $1.25 million from Sean O’Sullivan ’85 to provide the initial funding for this new program to assist in building engineering and science capacity through partnerships with key universities in Africa, while promoting cross cultural communication and cooperation. This endeavor is in keeping with the Rensselaer commitment, under the Clinton Global Initiative, to partner with African institutions for these purposes.
“We are working to expand the scientific and technological workforce capacity that is so urgently needed in each of our countries and around the globe,” President Jackson said. “At the same time, we are forging these new partnerships to expand and enhance the opportunity for our students to hone their skills while developing the multicultural sophistication and intellectual agility required to lead in this ever-more-interconnected global economy.”
In South Africa, Jackson and the delegation met with officials in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and Pretoria. President Jackson also spoke at the University of Stellenbosch graduation ceremony on March 16, and participated in a partnership signing ceremony on March 17.
Members of the Rensselaer delegation also traveled to Kumasi, Ghana, where they visited Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to discuss future collaborations.
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