In the not-too-distant future, Newman University students could be taking some coursework to complete their major in the United Kingdom.
That possibility along with plenty of “intercontinental bonding” took place this week as Newman welcomed two representatives from Newman University in Birmingham, England.
Associate Dean of the School of Human Sciences Paul Ryan and Director of Communication Chris Wormwell traveled to the United States to meet face-to-face with members of Newman’s administration, faculty, staff and students Sept. 28-29.
“We’ve had a great couple of days, [meeting with] everybody from the dean of students to professors and students,” Ryan said. “We went to watch the football (soccer) game, so we got a real feel for what Newman Kansas is like. I don’t think you can do that unless you come and visit. It’s been a great experience.”
“We have an agreement and an understanding but I think those relationships are only real when people are involved… not some formal document,” Wormwell added.
Following a visit to Birmingham in 2010 by President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mike Austin, Ph.D., Father Joseph Gile and others for the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, a semester exchange agreement between the two schools was created. It allows Newman students in Wichita to take classes at Newman Birmingham and students in England to study here. Professor of History and Director of International Studies Cheryl Golden, Ph.D. was instrumental in getting the agreement in place.
“This program allows our students to attend NU Birmingham in a direct exchange,” Golden said. “Students maintain their NU Wichita enrollment status, but go to NU Birmingham, and vice versa. During our first exchange agreement, we sent 10 students over for semester experiences; they have sent five.”
The partnership has been renewed, but more collaboration is in the making for the two universities. The potential expansion was a main purpose of this visit by Ryan and Wormwell.
“We’re at the very early stages and we are able to tailor our program so it does have an integration with yours (Newman Wichita)” Wormwell explained. “We think that will be very attractive to UK students to have the opportunity… it is important to them in their decision-making and that’s great, because it helps us to fulfill our mission of formation.”
“It’s about the two institutions working more closely together,” Ryan added. “We’re going to develop jointly our math program over the next 18 months.”
Golden called the project “very bold and exciting.”
“They are developing a math major for their university and want to develop it in direct connection with us, envisioning that students in their sophomore or junior years could make the exchange both ways – their students coming here, ours there – without any interruption in required coursework,” Golden said. “If successful, this would create another unique opportunity for our current and future students to experience different education styles, different universities and peoples.”
In addition to the math and semester exchange programs, Paul would like to see faculty research exchanges and collaborations, and teaching exchanges.
“We have a very limited amount of partners and we do that on purpose,” Paul said. “We go with institutions that have the same vision and the same mission as we do. In that way you’re comparing apples and apples and we can all work together. I think this is the start of developing that relationship.”
“We are very excited that they have invested the time, energy and resources to include us in their plans,” Golden said. “They would like us to consider sending a math faculty member in spring to continue the discussions with math faculty in Birmingham. This is all very new for us – we will see if we can accommodate that request.”
“The idea of globalization, internationalization seems to be a bit of a foreign concept here,” Paul said. “I think it’s just about building confidence that you are really a great institution. People want to come and see how it works and your students going out will enrich that experience. We’re in a global economy, aren’t we, and employees expect students to know about what’s happening in the wider world, and I think we’ll get that by developing this partnership.”