Jul. 26, 2007
Before U.S. House committee, Skorton says 'development of human capacity' is key goal of CU's international efforts
Calling international education and research among the nation's most effective diplomatic assets, Cornell President David Skorton told a Congressional committee July 26 that Cornell is playing an active role by increasing its presence around the world.
Skorton testified on "The Globalization of R&D and Innovation: The University Response," before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology in Washington, D.C.
The committee invited Skorton to describe three major points: what the general motivation was for Cornell to establish branch campuses overseas (namely, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar); what he anticipates as the effects of these overseas branch campuses on overall global science and technology enterprise; and how Cornell is adjusting its home campus science and engineering to better respond to an increasingly global economy. Skorton read a shortened version of his 22-page official testimony before the committee.
Going beyond simply describing Cornell's efforts, Skorton also echoed a theme from his May 2007 commencement address, in which he urged Cornell -- and higher education in general -- to play a role in reducing global inequalities.
"I am calling for a new national approach, with university teaching, research and outreach at its center, to address the socio-economic inequalities that threaten our nation and the world, and to spur economic growth though innovation and capacity building as the Marshall Plan did 60 years ago through aid and joint planning," Skorton wrote in his full remarks to the committee.
Skorton described to the committee how Weill Cornell in Qatar, established in 2001 through a partnership with the Qatar Foundation, is the first American medical school to offer its own M.D. degree overseas. It allows students from the Middle East to obtain quality medical education in their own region, and faculty to teach in another culture and broaden their research. The first set of medical degrees will be conferred in spring 2008.
Skorton stressed that Cornell's long history of "internationalization" has proven that "any cooperation across borders can play an important role in promoting cross-cultural understanding, and that real and substantial benefits accrue to the U.S. and to the process of innovation -- the driver of our global economic competitiveness."
At home in Ithaca, Cornell is also responding to increasing demand for instruction in such languages as Arabic, Mandarin and Russian, Skorton said. The university encourages study abroad and offers many internationally focused majors, such as China and Asia-Pacific Studies.
Furthermore, Cornell welcomes thousands of international students every year, which, he said, helps broaden the community, and therefore education, of all students. Other globalization efforts by Cornell include: a faculty-led Indo-U.S. working group; joint programs in Singapore, India and Tanzania; scholarly exchanges in China; and agricultural research efforts in developing nations, such as at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development.