Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
President E. Gordon Gee told members of the Columbus Metropolitan Club that Ohio State has the potential to become the leading global institution in America, but before that potential could be realized, he had to take a trip to the most populous city in South America.
OSU formed a $1.4 million research partnership last week with SÃ£o Paulo, expanding Gee’s Global Gateways initiative.
“The purpose of our trip is part of a larger global strategy to build partnerships and to discover new opportunities for both Ohio State and the state of Ohio and to explore the possibility of opening our third Global Gateway office,” Gee said at the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday.
Gee said he believes OSU is in a position to lead the nation as a global institution and stressed the importance of actively reaching out through global gateways and research partnerships.
“Public higher education is the fuel and fire that moves us forward, individually and collectively, toward the noble horizon of achieving the nation’s founding promise, that promise that was embodied in the statement, ‘We the People,'” Gee said. “The most basic value of public higher education is its role in advancing our understanding of who we are as humans.”
Gee began his discussion of public higher education with a depiction of his office view of the Oval, describing his regular observation of students from all different backgrounds making their way to various classes across the intersecting sidewalks and patches of grass.
“Ohio State’s Oval is not merely the physical heart of the university, it is also a place from which hope and light radiate without ceasing,” Gee said. “It is the crucible from which a better and more just global future will emerge.”
Gee, Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research, and William Brustein, vice provost for global strategies and international affairs, traveled to Brazil to sign this new agreement with representatives of the FundaÃ§Ã£o de Amparo Ã Pesquisa do Estado de SÃ£o Paulo (FAPESP), SÃ£o Paulo research foundation.
OSU has existing partnerships with researchers of SÃ£o Paulo in fields such as translational plant science, but with this new partnership, collaboration is open to all disciplines.
The partnership is part of a university-wide initiative to expand international ties and assert OSU as a global institution.
“We have more than 6,000 international students, putting us in the nation’s top 10 for international student enrollment,” Gee said.
Sahra Osman, a third-year in international relations and diplomacy, plans to study abroad Fall Semester. Osman said this partnership could help bring in international students to OSU and send out more students abroad.
“I want to go to Europe or Africa,” Osman said.
Senait Temesgen, a fourth-year in international studies and international development, spent time in Brazil for part of last summer through the Global Gateway program. Temesgen visited SÃ£o Paulo while studying through the program and hopes to return after graduation.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Temesgen said.
Temesgen said she thought this research partnership would reinforce the already strong ties between OSU and Brazil, and the way the university’s international program is seen worldwide.
Brazil has implemented a new government program that aims to send 45,000 Brazilian students to the United States for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs (STEM) within the next few years, Gee said.
“We currently have 14 Brazilian students at our university,” Gee said.
The university has two offices similar to the partnership formed with SÃ£o Paulo – one in Shanghai, established in 2010, and another in Mumbai, India, established last March.
“They serve as home bases for the university’s expanding teaching and research collaborations around the world as well as connecting points for thousands of students and alumni living and working abroad,” Gee said.
Gee said the trip to Brazil demonstrated the need for OSU to shift away from his idea of global engagement and move more toward global embodiment.
“Global embodiment is about actively and aggressively seeking out other’s perspectives,” Gee said. “If we are going to be truly internationally engaged we need to be globally present.”