Study-abroad exchange program expanded with University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany

Fort Hays State University has expanded a year-old partnership with the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany that gives students and faculty the opportunity to experience higher education with an international flavor.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, and Dr. Erhard Reckwitz, dean of Humanities at Duisburg-Essen, signed the new agreement Tuesday morning in a ceremony on the Hays campus.

"This expanded agreement advances our commitment to learning experiences that bring together cultures, perspectives and thinking from around the world," President Hammond said. "These are the kinds of experiences that make our students forward-thinking and world-ready."

Hammond commended Dr. Avi Kempinski, assistant professor of modern languages, for having the imagination and energy to pioneer the exchange program.

The University of Duisburg-Essen has campuses in each of its two namesake cities, Duisburg and Essen. It was one of three universities in Germany that Kempinski visited in the summer of 2008 in search of just such a partnership. "The University of Duisburg-Essen was the most willing and compatible," Kempinski said.

Dean Reckwitz visited FHSU for the first time in October 2008. He and President Hammond signed the original agreement during that visit, starting a summer exchange program for students. As a result, eleven FHSU students traveled to the Essen campus in June this year to attend a month-long language and culture program. In return, the University of Duisburg-Essen sent one graduate student who is completing a second semester of study in FHSU's Department of English this fall after starting in the summer term.

The expanded agreement that was signed on Tuesday contains two provisions:

  • It extends the summer study-abroad program to include a one-to-one faculty exchange. The English Department will be the pilot for the faculty exchange. During the summer of 2010, Reckwitz, a specialist in the literature and cultures of South Africa, will teach in Hays, and Dr. Steve Trout, FHSU professor of English, will teach in Germany.
  • Also as a one-year pilot program, FHSU will offer scholarships for up to 10 Duisburg-Essen students to study in Hays for either one or two semesters in the 2010-2011 academic year. The University of Duisburg-Essen will also provide financial support to its students electing to study at FHSU.

"This partnership is important for the spirit of internationalization that now has become an integral part of the FHSU mission," Kempinski said. "It is important for our students to have a destination university in Europe that provides them an affordable opportunity for study. At the same time, it allows our students to be exposed to students from Germany on our campus."

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