Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Gary Lawler was part of a delegation of Penn State representatives who opened the university's new international center at the University of Pune in India.
The center is the first of its kind for Penn State University through its Global Engagement Network (GEN), a network of strategic partnerships that Penn State has developed with peer institutions around the world. Through those partnerships across the globe, Penn State and its partners share vital resources while providing cross-cultural experiences for students from both universities. The opportunity allows Penn State to incorporate the research-based educational experience for which it is known worldwide and to attract international students from a variety of regions throughout the world.
The University of Pune is located in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, the seventh most populous and second largest state in India. Pune is considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The university consists of 46 academic departments. It has approximately 307 recognized research institutes and 612 affiliated colleges that offer graduate and undergraduate courses.
The grand opening was attended by representatives from Penn State as well as the University of Pune, Penn State's educational affiliate in Pune, India.
"During the trip, we initiated conversations with other smaller universities affiliated with the University of Pune, discussing ways we can cooperate in terms of faculty research, faculty and student exchanges, and articulation," Lawler said.
Lawler joined Dr. Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses; Michael Adewumi, vice provost for global programs; Mukund Kulkarni, Penn State Harrisburg chancellor; and Collins Airhihenbuwa, professor and head, BioBehavioral Health in opening the center and discussing building a global health network led by Airhihenbuwa.
"We are seeking to establish multi-dimensional partnerships across the University and abroad," said Adewumi. "When GEN succeeds in engaging and transforming a broad spectrum of Penn State faculty, global engagement will be an integral part of our normal academic enterprise and processes. I see these centers as another step closer towards realizing the vision of being a truly global university by helping to support those initiatives on a practical level."
After opening the center, the Penn State delegation met with representatives of colleges in India, including Fergusson College, which was particularly interested in the engineering degree focused on alternative energy and power generation offered at Penn State Hazleton.
Lawler has visited India as part of the delegation three times previously and has been working with the India initiative for the campuses for a number of years as part of a task force for the engagement of India by the university.
"It's particularly important in their culture to build relationships. Seeing the same faces, working with the same people and building trust are really vital to developing relationships and moving them along," Lawler said.
The Penn State representatives worked closely with Dr. Wasudeo Gade, the vice chancellor of the University of Pune, that university's equivalent of Penn State University President Eric Barron. The University of Pune has approximately 750,000 students between its main campus and hundreds of affiliated colleges.
Through the educational partnership, students study at Pune for three years and at Penn State for two. Lawler said the experience is an excellent opportunity for students.
"The collaboration with Pune enriches diversity in India and at our individual campuses throughout the Penn State community while providing lasting benefits to the students who can attain a Penn State education and degree," Lawler said. "The newly opened center in Pune offers a broad spectrum of support and will also allow faculty members to leverage the research opportunities and resources available at both universities."