University signs memo of understanding with Liberia's United Methodist University

Signing memo of understanding

In a meeting on the Salem State University campus Tuesday, July 5, university president Patricia Maguire Meservey and Bishop John G. Innis, representing Liberia’s United Methodist University, signed a memo of understanding to continue the developing relationship that exists between the two universities.

According to Greg Carroll, chair of Salem State’s interdisciplinary studies department (IDS), “There are multiple opportunities across the university campus for both faculty and student involvement. For our students especially, it represents a chance to engage in service learning. From students in our peace and intercultural relations program to those in sport and movement science, nursing, education, biology, and other majors, there are endless possibilities to help support the rebuilding of Liberia, which has suffered through years of civil conflict.”

Carroll and education professor Allan Shwedel accompanied seven Salem State students to the African nation in April of this year, where they spent eight days working with the Liberian Peacebuilder Initiative. Professors Carroll and Shwedel will return to Liberia this fall, and again in January, 2012, with additional students and faculty. Carroll established the relationship in Liberia through his work with a Seattle-based NGO (non-governmental organization), Global Citizen Journey, and a Ghanaian based NGO, Population Caring Organization, though it was not until he connected with Bishop Innis's daughter, a student at Salem State University, that the trip was able to move forward in the manner that it did.

At the signing, Bishop Innis, who serves as president of United Methodist University's board of trustees, noted that global education “is the order of the day. We must let our education make a difference," he continued, “not just in philosophical and academic ways, but in practical ways as well.”

Provost and academic vice president Kristin Esterberg echoed that thought, indicating that, “This developing partnership between Salem State University and United Methodist University will open doors for student and faculty exchanges, and hopefully for other forms of collaboration. In the increasingly small world in which we live, providing opportunities for faculty and students to explore and experience other cultures in meaningful ways is to everyone’s advantage.”

Photo, from left: IDS Chair Greg Carroll, Bishop John G. Innis, President Patricia Maguire Meservey, Provost Kristin Esterberg

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