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A delegation from the University of Guyana tours the Center for International Collections at Alden Library.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel

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Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education resources at Ohio University Libraries, leads a delegation from the University of Guyana on a tour of Alden Library.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel

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Vibert Cambridge, professor emeritus of Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies, accompanies a delegation from the University of Guyana on a tour of Alden Library.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel

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University of Guyana delegation visits Athens Campus

Trip designed to explore possibilities, extend opportunities


New Ohio University Bobcats and their guests weren't the only visitors to the Athens Campus this past week. A six-member delegation from the University of Guyana was on campus to explore new partnerships and to expand on the relationship developed between the two institutions over the past 30 years.

"We came on this trip for two reasons – to explore possibilities and to sustain opportunities," Jacob Opadeyi, vice chancellor and principal of the University of Guyana, said during a welcome lunch for the delegation on July 22. 

The delegation, which included deans from five of the University of Guyana's seven faculty groups, spent July 22-23 on the Athens Campus. While on campus, the group met with Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, as well as the deans and directors of several OHIO colleges and academic units. 

"The partnership between Ohio University and the University of Guyana has resulted in numerous opportunities for students, faculty and staff at both institutions," McDavis said. "The delegation's recent visit helped to reaffirm and advance those relations, strengthening our international focus and cultivating opportunities for future collaboration."

Guyanese citizens have been earning degrees from OHIO since the 1970s. But it was an Ohio University professor's 1984 trip to this Caribbean country located in South America that initiated a formal relationship between OHIO and the University of Guyana – a relationship that has been facilitated by Vibert Cambridge, professor emeritus of OHIO's School of Media Arts and Studies.

A native of Guyana and an Ohio University graduate, Cambridge commented during the lunch on the University of Guyana's short but impressive history.

"When I left Guyana in 1964, the University of Guyana was just one year old. It was a part-time university," Cambridge said. "The University of Guyana is in its 50th year, and spending some time on that campus since 2000 has been an inspiration."

The relationship between OHIO and the University of Guyana was formalized in 2008 when the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding. During the same year, the United States Agency for International Development awarded OHIO's Scripps College of Communication and the University of Guyana's Center for Communication Studies a $300,000 grant to upgrade mass communication and journalism practices in Guyana. The grant allowed several OHIO faculty, staff and graduate students to travel to Guyana to conduct workshops and other training programs which, Opadeyi said, "helped raise the level of journalism in Guyana."

"This relationship between Ohio University and the University of Guyana has been going on for 30 years. Since 2008, it has intensified, and now we really have a chance to turn this into something not only significant but enduring," David Descutner, University College dean and executive vice provost for undergraduate education at OHIO, said during the welcome lunch. "The possibilities are limitless when it comes to teaching and learning, research and creative activity, and, just as important as anything else, fellowship – the chance to work together and learn from one another."

Since 2008, more than 10 OHIO faculty and staff members and more than 35 OHIO students have traveled to Guyana. Most of the activities between the two entities have focused on collaboration between the Scripps College of Communication and the University of Guyana's Center for Communication Studies. 

One of the objectives of the delegation's visit to Ohio University was to extend that partnership to OHIO's other colleges.

"We want you all to be a part of our family," Opadeyi said to those at the lunch, including several Ohio University deans, members of the University's Guyana Relationship Management Committee and individuals who have traveled to Guyana.

The areas in which the University of Guyana would like to further collaborate with OHIO include curriculum and program review, staff and student exchanges, staff development, and establishing a research profile. In exchange, Opadeyi noted that increased collaboration would provide Ohio University a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, opportunities for low-cost field stations and practical experience, accommodations for sabbaticals and English as a Second Language programs, as well as an opportunity to heighten visibility and strengthen the OHIO brand in Guyana and the region.

"When Ohio University takes the University of Guyana … and you work with us for five, 10, 20 years or so and turn us into a big university, then you have done something worthwhile because you have replicated yourself," Opadeyi said. "Replicating yourself in terms of your leadership, the quality you have developed over the years, looking at what you've done for Ohio over the past 200 years and turning that into knowledge that you can transfer to us, that is some legacy that we want you to explore with us."