Michael Opens International Conference on Higher Education in Russia

By Sue Gettlin | May 25, 2012

By Sue Gettlin

The 2nd Annual Conference of Global Advancement of Universities and Colleges opened at Voronezh State University in Voronezh, Russia, on Wednesday, May 23. The three-day conference welcomed more than 60 delegates from Russia, the United States, France, Romania and China.

Dr. Steve Michael, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, opened the conference with a greeting from President Oxholm. Michael has organized conferences on the issues of quality assurance and internationalization of higher education over the past several years. In 2011 he helped found the Association of Global Advancement of Universities and Colleges. Last year’s inaugural conference was held at Xi’an International University in Xi’an, China.

Michael’s presentation, “The Idea of a University: Educating the Global Scholar for a Global Society,” examined Cardinal John Henry Newman’s ideas of a university and applied them to present-day higher education. Newman, an influential 19th century Oxford University academic, felt that a university should be a place of learning and an assemblage of strangers. Michael pointed out that technology has changed the idea of place. Also, a university must be a place of universal learning and be a magnet that draws students to it. Politics, costs, language and institutional practices are hindrances to this idea. Funding for education and the push for career-oriented learning are problems as well. The “University” is no longer a place. It is an experience. Modern-day universities should strive to produce global scholars: students whose education and academic engagement are intentionally transnational. Their academic pursuits draw from and impact different regions of the world.

On Wednesday morning before the opening of the conference, overseas delegates were treated to a tour of the Kramskoy Museum of Fine Arts. The museum, located in the center of Voronezh, houses a collection of painting and sculpture, much of it by noted Voronezh-born artists. In addition, the museum displays a small but notable collection of Egyptian art and artifacts.