Virginia Commonwealth University to Partner with Cuba’s University of Havana on Academic Programs

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will soon be working with Cuba’s University of Havana (Universidad de La Habana) in the development of cooperative academic programs.

While on a marketing mission to Cuba, Governor Terrence McAuliffe personally witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday, Jan.4, between VCU Provost Gail Hackett and Gustavo Cobreiro, rector of the University of Havana, allowing both institutions to work together to develop programs in a variety of academic disciplines that are being offered at both institutions.

The MOU will facilitate the exchange of documents, publications and other material as well as joint implementation of summer courses and semester programs for regular Virginia students at the University of Havana. It also includes reciprocal visits by professors, researchers and postgraduate students. The accord takes effect immediately, although the other details for the working arrangements have yet to be firmed up since diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba is still relatively new.

Regarding the MOU, McAuliffe said: “World class higher education institutions like Virginia Commonwealth University play a vital role in our work to build a new Virginia economy, and they serve as key ambassadors to nations across the globe. The University of Havana and VCU both have rich histories and bright futures. This MOU will ensure that the future includes significant engagement and collaboration between these great academic and research institutions, as well as between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation of Cuba.”

The University of Havana, according to Cobreira, now has an exchange program with some 450 universities from around the world, including 45 higher education centers in the U.S. Founded in 1728, Cuba’s oldest university has 16 colleges and 14 research centers, including a distance learning center.

For its part, VCU currently has more than 50 such global academic partnerships, including the well-known accord signed in 1998 with the Qatar Foundation that led to the establishment of the VCUQatar, a School of the Arts branch in Doha offering students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design, Interior Design, Fashion Design or Painting and Printmaking and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Design Studies. This extension campus now has a faculty representing 15 different nationalities and a student population representing 40 nationalities. The VCU School of the Arts is ranked the No. 1 public university school of arts and design in the country by “U.S. News & World Report” in 2015.

VCU’s International Partnership Universities Initiative, which provides faculty and students the opportunity for involvement and collaboration in an international and multicultural arena, include tie-ins with China’s Fudan University and Beijing Foreign Studies University, Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center, UK’s Harris Manchester College, Oxford University and University of the West England, India’s Indian Institute of Technology and its Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Russia’s Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University, Spain’s University of Cordova, Mexico’s University of Guadalajara, South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, Italy’s University of Mesina, and Brazil’s University of Sao Paolo.

Founded in 1838, the VCU is a public research university that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as professional and certificate courses in a wide range of programs, including some unique ones like degrees in “Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness” and “Real Estate and Urban Land Development.” The University has two main campuses in Richmond as well as a number of satellite and research locations. It has a student population of over 31,000. It is host to 36 international fraternities and sororities. It has 17 varsity teams, collectively as Rams. The University’s banner colors are Black and Gold. The VCU mascot is Rodney the Ram.

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