Kwara State University (KWASU), a new university located in Malete, southeastern Nigeria, opened its doors to students in the 2009/2010 academic year. The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, said that “there were exactly 94 universities in Nigeria already. If you were going to establish the same thing, forget it. We are poised to make a difference.” One of the differences is to include “internationalization right from the beginning.”
“I am thriving in this environment. Though there are many inconveniences and difficulties, it’s exciting to be part of a project which aims at improving conditions in a country with so much potential! The University has a fantastic leader at its helm, whose cheerfulness and ‘let’s get it done’ attitude is invigorating. I’ve learned that I have a lot of qualities which allow me to do well here: patience, determination, flexibility, curiosity, and most certainly, the ability to see certain behaviours and systems as cultural phenomena and historical legacies. This is quite an adventure!” – Nancy Hannemann
In May 2010 Nancy Hannemann, AWB’s volunteer, took a leave of absence from her position as Director of Global Education at the University of Alberta to serve as the founding director of the Centre for Innovation and International Studies at KWASU. Professor Na’Allah, who had worked closely with Hannemann when he was a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, had invited her to establish international services and to promote global citizenship. Her fifteen years in a similar role in Canada, her previous work in Nigeria with Canadian Crossroads International, Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO), and her research as a graduate student made her an excellent fit for this position.
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The Center for Innovation and International Studies plays a leading role in preparing students to live and work in today’s increasingly interconnected world and in promoting KWASU’s international engagement. The Centre’s services and activities include:
• International relations and partnerships
• International programs and projects
• Global education including internationalization of the curriculum and the promotion of global citizenship
While at Kwasu, Hannemann focused on establishing the infrastructure for the activities of the Center of Innovation and International Studies and on creating a conducive environment for international staff and visitors. An exciting and much needed project to develop short-term housing for international staff was begun. A grant was acquired and land purchased on the outskirts of Ilorin, the state capital, on the road to the Malete campus. The housing units will provide a friendly and convenient environment for international guests as well as transitional housing for permanent staff when they arrive. During Hannemann’s posting, international guests included two academics on sabbatical from the University of Alberta, a Fulbright scholar, and three visiting artists teaching theatre, writing and photography.
Hannemann was involved in many aspects of KWASU life. She chaired and served on numerous committees, focusing on tasks such as developing a process for funding and organizing conferences, developing a student employment program, developing the process for university admissions, organizing KWASU’s first international conference, and establishing a centre for United Nations studies. She put considerable effort into helping the University develop a professional and consistent image for their printed materials. She also worked with a class of photography students to create publicity shots for the university.
Developing international programs was also on the agenda. MOUs were signed with Thammasat University in Bangkok and Columbia University in New York City. KWASU joined the Association of African Universities and has been represented at meetings related to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy Partnership. A small group of students went on a short study tour to Thammasat University and several faculty members were interested in developing study abroad programs for summer 2012. Another program in its formative stages is a film series on global issues to which a University of Alberta staff member donated a collection of 30 films on issues ranging from conflict and refugees to HIV/AIDS.
AWB provided funding for Hannemann’s assignment under a Memorandum of Understanding between AWB and KWASU.
Nancy J. Hannemann, M.A. (University of Manchester), is the Director of Global Education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.