A Memorandum of Understanding between Vice-Chancellor Professor David Eastwood and Illinois’ Chancellor Dr Phyllis Wise has been signed at Urbana-Champaign. The BRIDGE (BiRmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery EnGagement and Education) alliance sets a future precedent to invest institutional resources in support of the partnership's expansion and sustenance.
You can listen to Professor Eastwood and Dr Wise being interviewed about the strategic alliance, discussing what the hope to achieve as a result of the partnership, by clicking the link below.
The city of Birmingham has enjoyed a 20-year affiliation with the state of Illinois via its sister city relationship with Chicago. This has seen a flourishing partnership develop between the city, the wider state of Illinois and the US Midwest.
Building on this status, the University of Birmingham has developed a network of faculty relationships with leading North American academic institutions, generating research results and funding successes. Exciting educational opportunities have been established for students through new exchange partnerships, prestigious internships and collaborative teaching arrangements.
Engagement between the University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign continues to gain momentum, with more than 25 established faculty-to-faculty links in 14 key academic disciplines already in place. Research links between the two institutions include such disciplines as Economic and Physical Geography, Railway Engineering, Maths, Psychology, Environmental Genomics, History of Art, American & Canadian Studies, Cultural Heritage and Education.
Furthermore, the number of joint publications with US collaborators over the past few years has increased, from 454 in 2009 to 651 in 2013, enhancing the University of Birmingham’s global reach and impact.
As a result of the BRIDGE alliance announcement, both parties will seek to generate and effectively exchange creative knowledge across disciplines through frequent, purposeful face-to-face meeting between faculty and students at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Speaking after the announcement, University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor David Eastwood said: “For over four years we’ve been enabling our faculties to collaborate together, to establish areas of existing collaboration and new collaboration. Four years on, with those collaborations firmly embedded, we judged the time was right to sign a strategic alliance between the two universities which will facilitate further collaboration.
“We hope to achieve research collaborations which will produce outstanding outputs, which we are already beginning to see. In a number of areas we have complementary expertise and that will give us, between the two universities, the critical mass to compete.
“We are certainly looking to see more faculty exchanges and our students are excited about the possibility of exchanges to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign”.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Dr Phyllis Wise added: “When you get to partner with a globally respected university, I think the faculty on both the Illinois side and on the British side benefit.
“All of the things that we are thinking about for the future of higher education don’t know geographic or national borders and so this is a great partnership I look forward to growing”.
Professor Eastwood and Dr Wise signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday 11 March at the Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The signing was preceded by a public talk given by Professor Eastwood on Monday 10 March at Illinois’ Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Entitled Through a Glass Darkly: What the Future of Higher Education Might Be, the Vice-Chancellor described a challenging future ahead for universities worldwide, but one that embraces the new and is “every bit as central to the questioning of the human spirit, and every bit as precious to sustaining all that’s precious politically and culturally.”