From Sept. 23-27, International Programs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha hosted a group of academic leaders from Nigeria for the conference Advancing the Frontiers of Public Tertiary Education in the 21st Century. Participants from Nigeria came from Federal Polytechnic of Auchi, Federal Polytechnic of Idah, Federal Polytechnic of Ado-Ekiti, OSUN State College of Education in Ileshi, and the Institute of Management and Technology in Enugu.
The event featured faculty and researchers from UNO, UNMC, and UNL who specialize on projects in public health, agriculture, biomechanics and administrative strategic planning and leadership. The conference highlighted the value of community engagement and how public universities enhance training and civic understanding by having students engage with and serve local communities through course projects and research.
UNO's Olu Oyinlade, Ph.D., professor of sociology and a native Nigerian, served as lead facilitator for the week's meetings.
"I would say this conference, at the very least, has exposed [our guests] to the ways that things can be different from the way things are back in Nigeria," Oyinlade says. "I think all of this they are going to take with them so that when they go home they can begin to make changes. I'm hoping by traveling through the community that will also get them some ideas of what could be different back home."
Through dialog about the challenges of higher education and changing needs in industry and educational preparation, participants explored creative ways to lead education for the future and to strengthen international ties with Nebraska.
"It's not going to end here," Oyinlade says. "The idea is that we want to follow up with them and to say 'how well are you doing' and who knows maybe there will be another summit down the road."