the Open Door - Connecting dots
Indira V. Samarasekera, President
One major point of destination was Torino, Italy, where I met with leaders of select G8 and O5 universities at the 2009 G8 University Summit. These meetings—now in their second year—illustrate the growing awareness that international collaboration in higher education and research can be a powerful force for positive change, especially in the area of sustainability and responsible development. Next year, the G8/O5 University Summit will come to Canada presenting Canadian universities with an incredible opportunity to showcase our significant research and organizational strengths in global education and research.
A second key point of destination was the United Kingdom, where I spent time in London and Cambridge. A highlight in London was an event we had the privilege of holding in the House of Lords. This event drew more than 100 people—alumni, members of the UK academic community, partners from the Worldwide University Network, as well as members of the House of Lords and the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce. For many, this event formed their first impression of the U of A, and feedback indicates that we succeeded inciting their interest, opening up future possibilities of partnership and collaboration.
Collaboration was an enduring theme throughout last month’s travels. After the annual general meeting of the Worldwide University Network, I feel confident that our new membership in this association will bring important benefits. While visiting Cambridge, I toured Microsoft Research Cambridge—an example of industry and the university working in close partnership. Located in the heart of the university, and conducting basic research in-house, Microsoft is in close contact with academia, investing in scholarships and internships; helping university researchers identify challenging research problems to address real-world issues; and transferring pre-competitive research breakthroughs into new products. It’s an innovative model with many advantages—I made sure to mention it when speaking to government and academic leaders at Science Day during my stop in Ottawa on the way home.
As your president, I firmly believe that these kinds of meetings with our current and potential partners are critical to our ability to succeed on a provincial, national and international scale. Throughout my travels, I connected the U of A to a broad network of leaders in higher education, government, industry, business philanthropy that in future will lead to the establishment and consolidation of highly productive partnerships and collaborations.
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