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Leipzig students' visit strengthens long-standing partnership

May 10, 2005
By Emily Mullins

An international experience is the icing on the cake of a well-rounded college education for many students. Ohio University has established numerous partnerships with universities all around the world, but the tie between Ohio University and Leipzig University in Leipzig, Germany, is one of oldest and strongest connections.

Photos by Bryan DuffieThe link between the two universities dates back to the late 1800s when John P. Gordy and James E. Le Rossignol received their Ph.D.s from Leipzig and proceeded to join the Ohio University faculty. The current exchange program began in 1992, shortly after the German unification, and included the academic areas of contemporary history and journalism. Since then, the Ohio-Leipzig Exchange Program has expanded to include a variety of ways for the two universities to interact.

"This type of relationship symbolizes our university today and where we want it to go in the future," Ohio University President Roderick McDavis says.

Last week marked another arrival of Leipzig students to the Ohio University campus. While here, the students examined the strain on U.S. and European relations post-Sept. 11 by participating in seminars, debates and class lectures, as well as attending the 2005 Baker Peace Conference on "U.S. Intelligence, Terrorism and National Security." They also met with Cutler Scholars to discuss differences in U.S. and European approaches to fighting terrorism. This research is part of "Challenges to Western Unity in the Post-Cold War World," an international research project conducted by Ohio University's Contemporary History Institute, department of history and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Leipzig University.

"This visit will significantly advance our joint research project with our Leipzig colleagues and further strengthen the long-established Ohio University-Leipzig linkage," says Michael Grow, director of the Contemporary History Institute.

This particular trip was significant because it honored the life of Dr. Volker Bigl, rector of Leipzig University, who passed away last month. His constant efforts and contributions strengthened the relationship between Ohio University and Leipzig University, earning him an honorary doctor of science degree from Ohio University in 2001. A scholarship in his name will be created to support future study with the Ohio-Leipzig program.

"We at Ohio University feel we lost one of our own," says Robert Stewart, director of the Institute for International Journalism and coordinator of the Leipzig University Exchange Program at Ohio University. "Most of the [Leipzig] students are here today because of [Dr. Bigl's] commitments."

Photos by Bryan DuffieThe Ohio-Leipzig Exchange Program offer students multiple ways to partake in an international experience. Long-and-short-term academic study sessions encourage students to study their specific major at the partner institution. An internship program allows students to fulfill the requirement overseas while giving them the opportunity to work as colleagues in a day-to-day environment. New technology has inspired the use of video conferences for frequent communication between the universities. Students can also engage in language study through the Ohio Program of Intensive English or the Herder Institute.

"Partnerships as scholars and colleagues enhance the intellectual reservoir around the world," says Tom Hodson, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

However, the exchanges are not all work and no play. Throughout their visits, the faculty and students take time to explore Athens and to experience what life is like on the other side of the world.

"Everyone has treated us like princes and has taken time to show us the best sides of the city," Leipzig University student Malte Ackerstaff says.

Emily Mullins is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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