NIU and National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) in Taipei, Taiwan, signed an historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) June 28, 2011, agreeing to foster academic exchange and cooperation between the two institutions.
This agreement allows for the exchange of students, faculty and information as well as collaboration in academic programs, conferences and research. Any college or department in either university has the opportunity to participate.
The MOU between the two institutions is the result of an idea more than 10 years in the making.
Paula Hartman, assistant professor in the Department of Special and Early Education (SEED), met Hui-Ching Ko when both were doctoral students at the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. The women’s friendship led to years of joint research and brainstorming ideas for the international training of pre-service teachers.
In December 2010, Hartman and Ko proposed a plan for a partnership between SEED and NTNU’s Special Education Center (SEC) where Dr. Ko is a researcher.
The SEC’s chief director, Tai-Hwa Emily Lu, was instrumental in creating interest at NTNU. At NIU, their initiative was expedited and approved with the help of Deborah Pierce, associate provost for International Programs, and Terry Borg, director of the Office of External Programs in the College of Education.
“International initiatives are not new to our college,” Borg said. “We have a rich history of faculty and students engaged in the international arena.”
“NIU is very interested in developing partnerships with other universities, especially internationally,” Hartman said.
“We are interested in adding value to our students’ education,” Borg added. “International experience is enriching and will help prepare them for 21st century jobs.”
Both NIU and NTNU were eager to expand the understanding.
Opened in 1946, NTNU is the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in Taiwan. Like NIU, it began as a teachers’ college. Its SEC was developed in 1974 and is the first of its kind in Taiwan. It provides support for students with special needs, conducts research and provides professional teacher training for the entire nation.
Now that the MOU is in place between the two universities, the possibilities for partnerships are endless. NTNU is very interested in exchanging faculty and SEED is discussing hosting exchange students.
Hartman said she believes the initiative will spark opportunities for grants “that are essentially global in nature. This will help us in our goal of becoming a major research center and also in developing international relations.”
by Marisa Sanders