The Fisher College of Science and Mathematics has partnered with Obafemi Awolowo University, an African Center of Excellence (ACE) in science, technology and knowledge.
One day last month, Towson University Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics Dean David Vanko and professors Sidd Kaza, Ph.D.; Claire Muhoro, Ph.D.; and Yeong-Tae Song, Ph.D. stepped off a Delta flight in Lagos, Nigeria.
They hopped into a car to drive four-and-a-half hours to their destination for the next five days: Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
The idea for the trip germinated in fall 2017, when International Initiatives Assistant Vice President Saleha Suleman encouraged the colleges’ deans to think about developing partnerships with universities in eight west and central Africa countries that have been designated “African Centers of Excellence (ACE).”
In collaboration with the Association of African Universities, The World Bank launched the ACE Project in 2014 to promote regional specialization in areas addressing common development challenges, strengthen the universities’ ability to deliver quality training and research, and meet the demand for required professional skills.
“A strong partnership with Obafemi Awolowo University is a win-win scenario for both institutions,” Suleman said. “For Towson University, this specific partnership will play a role in opening opportunities to contribute to the STEM capacity-building ventures of Nigeria and expand TU’s presence to the largest country on the African continent.
“We already have over 25 Nigerian students enrolled at TU, and the majority are in graduate programs pursuing STEM majors," she added. "This partnership will reinforce our enrollment ties to Nigeria in addition to the cultural and knowledge exchange.”
After some investigation and conversation, Fisher College and OAU agreed to a partnership and planned a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing for mid-January 2018.
“I’m excited about this new two-way partnership that can include student and faculty exchanges and joint research,” Vanko said. “These mesh very nicely with the Fisher College’s strategic objectives in cybersecurity research and education, diversity and inclusion, and internationalization.”
Once at the Nigerian university, OAU dignitaries greeted Vanko, Kaza, Muhoro and Song with a welcoming ceremony and gave them a tour of town and campus, which included administrative buildings, chemistry and geology buildings, and the art department.
The signing ceremony took place January 19. The MOU promises the promotion of academic exchanges that include information, materials and publications related to research, education and training to benefit both universities.
Later that week, Muhoro taught a grant-writing workshop to 80 faculty, staff and students that was very well-received.