Thursday, January 21, 2016

IIE, NAFSA and AASCU Initiatives

IIE Delegation to Cuba Explores Educational Partnership Opportunities

NEW YORK, November 11, 2015—U.S. university officials who took part in a historic delegation to Cuba from October 25 to November 1 led by the Institute of International Education found that Cuban higher education officials expressed a resounding desire to develop partnerships with their U.S. counterparts. The delegation, which is part of IIE’s Cuba Higher Education Initiative, was a first step toward cultivating relationships and exploring potential areas of cooperation. The U.S. campus representatives have returned to their colleges and universities with the intent to develop strategic plans for increasing partnership activities with Cuban institutions. Expected outcomes include new study abroad programs, faculty exchange, joint conferences or symposia, joint publications, and faculty-led courses to Cuba.

As an immediate result of the delegation, U.S. university representatives will be sharing their impressions and priorities for developing partnerships during an IIE National Conference Call on expanding US – Cuba academic collaboration on November 17th. To register for the Conference Call, please go to the IIE Cuba Higher Education website. Dial-in information will be provided after registration.

The delegation was led by IIE’s President and CEO, Allan E. Goodman, and included of a diverse group of 12 U.S. higher education institutions: the Associated Colleges of the Midwest; Central Washington University; Indiana University; Lehman College, CUNY; Oberlin College; Rutgers University; SUNY New Paltz; University of Arizona; Montclair State University; University of Tampa; Virginia Commonwealth University; and West Texas A&M. The thirty-four delegates met with high-level officials from six Cuban universities, including the Universidad de La Habana, Instituto Superior de Arte, Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (CUJAE), University of Ciencias Médicas de la Habana (UCMH), Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de Las Villas, and the Universidad de Ciego de Ávila Máximo Gómez Báez (UNICA). In addition, the group heard from the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education and the new Chargé D’Affairs from the U.S. Embassy. All of the Cuban universities voiced interest in academic cooperation and affirmed their belief that recent steps to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations may make the creation of partnerships easier to establish in the near future.

A number of key learning outcomes from this exploratory delegation revolve around the partnership priorities from the Cuban perspective, and the mechanics of how to initiate new linkages. Priorities from the Cuban perspective focus on graduate-level and faculty exchanges in fields such as agriculture, water management, environmental studies, energy/renewable energy, and public health, although they noted that they are also open to collaborating in all fields, including the arts and humanities. Like higher education institutions around the world, these priority areas demonstrate a growing emphasis on using international cooperation to address wider global concerns regarding food, water, and energy security, along with protection of the local environment.

Cuban institutions have a rich history of international collaboration. A majority of the international students that study in Cuba come from Central and Latin America, Africa, and Europe, and are especially prevalent in the medical universities. Despite a dearth in U.S. – Cuba academic partnerships, Europe, Latin America, and Canada have been working with Cuban counterparts for decades and serve as helpful models for U.S. colleges and universities. Meeting with Ambassadors from Norway, Spain, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, and the European Union provided the IIE delegation with helpful insight on the strong history of collaboration between these countries and Cuban higher education institutions.

While the present moment provides a unique opportunity to increase U.S. – Cuba institutional partnerships, they will not be without their challenges. Cuban institutions discussed what they see as a lack of financial and infrastructure resources, and many institutions made clear that they do not have the funds to send Cuban faculty and students abroad. The embargo has contributed to a lack of modern equipment and other resources that are essential for conducting research at Cuban institutions, in many cases requiring universities to use outdated equipment. Despite these challenges, U.S. institutions are planning to pursue a variety of opportunities, including developing a possible U.S. consortium that will work with Cuban counterparts on discipline-specific issues, such as climate change or water management. They plan to initiate new faculty-led courses, connect researchers, and invite visiting lecturers to the U.S. for short-term appointments.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.

About the IIE Cuba Higher Education Initiative

IIE’s Cuba Higher Education Initiative includes the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP), a series of briefing papers, and national conference calls to discuss ways to expand cooperation in higher education between the U.S. and Cuba. IAPP provides U.S. colleges and universities with a guided strategic planning process to expand cooperation with Cuban counterparts. In addition to the delegation to Cuba, IAPP Cuba connects all participants with expert mentors who provide expert advice to participants as they work to achieve their partnership goals.

NAFSA Launches New Initiative To Expand Relationships Between U.S. & Cuban Higher Education Institutions

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, on the one-year anniversary of President Obama's historic announcement to begin normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, NAFSA: Association of International Educators announces the NAFSA Cuba Engagement Initiative, a new program designed to promote sustainable partnerships between U.S. and Cuban academic institutions. The planned initiative consists of two interconnected projects that will lead to sustainable academic partnerships and mobility between the United States and Cuba: the Cuba-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue Project; and the Educators for Cuba Campaign.

NAFSA's Cuba-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue Project will provide on-going teaching and learning events for participants to gain insight about the Cuban and U.S. higher education landscape. In addition, NAFSA will provide travel grants for Cuban education leaders to attend the NAFSA 2016 and 2017 Annual Conferences and other international education events.

In conjunction with the Dialogue Project, NAFSA's Educators for Cuba Campaign will provide advocacy leadership for those in higher education seeking to support the ongoing U.S.- Cuba normalization process and to end the U.S. embargo. NAFSA will also continue to partner with other organizations such as the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Latin America Working Group, Civitas Global Educational Services, the Washington Office on Latin America, and Engage Cuba to mobilize political support for easing trade and travel restrictions with Cuba.

"As the U.S. and Cuban governments continue the historic process of normalizing relations, it is important that people and cultures that have been separated for more than 50 years have a structured and meaningful framework in which to engage and learn from each other," said Marlene M. Johnson, NAFSA's Executive Director and CEO. "International education and partnerships have always played an important role in building understanding and collaboration between nations, and we now have an opportunity to positively impact this historic process."

The NAFSA Cuba Engagement Initiative redoubles NAFSA's longstanding commitment to the use of academic exchanges and partnerships to build a more globally engaged United States and develop new opportunities for U.S. and Cuban international higher education leaders to collaborate. The program will complement NAFSA's continued work with 100,000 Strong in the Americas, the NAFSA Latin America Forum, and a decade of advocacy efforts.

"It's important that this be a two-way dialogue, and that the partnerships meet Cuban—not just U.S.—needs," said Kevin Hovland, NAFSA Deputy Executive Director of Conference, Academic Programs, and Internationalization Services. "NAFSA's Cuba-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue Project is centered on this mutual learning and respect for what both countries' higher education institutions have to offer."

Activities related to NAFSA's Cuba Engagement Initiative will begin in 2016. NAFSA's annual Advocacy Day, scheduled for March 14 and 15, will focus on urging Congress to lift the embargo and travel restrictions. Several high visibility events are already planned for the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference in May, including several integrated sessions.

"Although the Obama Administration has done as much as possible to restore academic exchanges, the embargo still impedes educational partnerships and innovative research collaboration," said Jill Welch, NAFSA Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy. "Ultimately, Congress needs to act to lift the remaining travel and trade restrictions if we are to truly utilize education as one of the greatest foreign policy and economic tools at our disposal. By coordinating efforts amongst higher education stakeholders, NAFSA aims to create the tipping point needed to reverse the embargo."

For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit  
Sample tweet: . @NAFSA launches initiative to expand  #USCuba  #HigherEd relationships &  #EndTheEmbargo  #EndTheTravelBan:

About NAFSA: With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit and @ConnectOurWorld on Twitter.

AASCU Cuba Presidential Mission Sets Stage for Joint Collaboration

AASCU, representing its more than 400 members, and the Ministry of Higher Education of Cuba, representing the country’s universities and research centers, signed a memorandum of agreement on September 10 at the conclusion of AASCU’s presidential mission to Cuba.

The agreement focuses on the creation of a joint task force that will be responsible for implementing several goals, including: developing mutually beneficial opportunities for faculty professional development, increasing student mobility, and for joint research at the undergraduate and graduate levels; promoting “Universidad 2016” Congress among AASCU members; creating an academic collaboration framework with specific steps and actions to be signed at “Universidad 2016” Congress; and continuing to support lifting the U.S. commercial, financial and economic embargo of Cuba, which impedes mutually beneficial academic collaboration.

AASCU President Muriel Howard and José Ramón Saborido Loidi, first vice minister, Ministry of Higher Education for Cuba, signed the memorandum on behalf of their respective constituencies. “We believe there are significant opportunities for collaboration between our members and the Cuban universities and research centers,” said AASCU President Muriel Howard. “The discussions we had with their presidents and ministry officials were productive and provided insight into how students and faculty in both countries can benefit from academic exchanges.”

AASCU presidents and chancellors who participated in the mission are: James Anderson, chancellor, Fayetteville State University (N.C.); Donald Betz, president, University of Central Oklahoma; Katherine Conway-Turner, president, Buffalo State (N.Y.); Steve Michael Dorman, president, Georgia College & State University; Cheryl Dozier, president, Savannah State University (Ga.); John Ettling, president, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh; William V. Flores, president, University of Houston-Downtown; Willie Hagan, president, California State University, Dominguez Hills; Karen S. Haynes, president, California State University San Marcos; Sue Henderson, president, New Jersey City University; Steven Jordan, president, Metropolitan State University of Denver; William LaForge, president, Delta State University (Miss.); Leroy Morishita, president, California State University, East Bay; Bruce Murphy, president, Nicholls State University, (La.); Frank Pogue, president, Cheyney State University (Pa.); and Gregory Weisenstein, president, West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to President Howard, other staff representing AASCU included Dorcas Colvin, vice president for leadership development and member services; Arlene Jackson, associate vice president for global initiatives; and Sufei Li, academic leadership and change staff member. A news release issued by the Ministry of Higher Education said that the delegation was “one of the largest to visit the island since December 17 last year, when a new chapter began in the relations between the two countries.” It also noted, “One of the Cuban interests is establishing internships for Cuban professors in the U.S. and vice versa…and there is a desire for exchange possibilities at the postgraduate level including shared research projects…”

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