Summer Solstice, Solar Impulse and Swiss Embassy

The summer solstice occurred on the same day as the final event of the 2013 Global Perspectives Program (GPP).  Summer solstice – the longest day of the year- is a celebration of (day)light and this year in particular of solar energy and Switzerland.

On Friday June 21st, the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC once again opened its doors to host the 2013 Global Perspectives Conference on Preparing Future Academic Leaders.  The theme this year was “University and society: Meeting expectations?”.  VT GPP program and UniBasel GPP participants served as panelists and discussion leaders for the intriguing dialogue focused on the expectations of the university, society and students and raising more questions than answers about the purpose of a university, the value of an education and the future of higher education.IMG_6623




The evening before, the Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager IMG_6579hosted a reception at the Air & Space Museum (Smithsonian) to celebrate the success of the Solar Impulse project and the plane the size of a 747 flown across the U.S using only solar energy.  The pilots, Andre and Bertrand, received 2013  Spirit Award from Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh  Foundation.

At the same time of our events were underway in Washington, a group of graduate deans were engaged in discussions of global graduate education in Germany as part of the DAAD study tour.  One of these deans (Nancy Marcus, FSU) was a participant in the 2012 graduate deans global perspectives program offered by K. DePauw.  To read more about the Germany study tour and the graduate deans program, please read the Global Perspectives blog into which these posts flow.

With inspiration and some sadness, the GPP’13 experience has ended but happily the participants have entered into the next phase – as GPP alumni.  The GPP manual and papers will be written and available electronically.  I anticipate that the conversations to continue via twitter (gppvt, #gpp13, @GPPUniBasel ), facebook (GPPVT FacebookUniBasel), LinkedIn (GPP alumni), blogs, google + and more.  Our lives have been enriched by the GPP experiences and we continue to grow as global scholars and colleagues.

Thanks all for another wonderful adventure – a quest for sure!

Global seminar at CESA

A week has passed since our adventure called global perspectives program began in Zurich.  We have traveled by plane, train, bus, tram, and foot on our wonderful journey. Our university visits have been completed with the final two completed on Monday – USI and SUPSI.

We have blogged, tweeted, and posted on FaceBook.  We have briefed, debriefed, chatted and debated on the train, over meals, in the garden and beyond.  The VT GPP’13 could talk (and some probably do) into the wee hours of the night.

And now we await the arrival of our colleagues from the University of Basel GPP’13 program.  The theme of our global seminar is “Universities and Society: Meeting expectations?”  The dialogue will undoubtedly be rich and informative.  The public version will be shared at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, DC on June 19, 2013.

Visits with University Presidents

One of the highlights of the Global Perspectives Program is the opportunity to meet and engage in active dialogue with the presidents (rectors) of selected universities:  President Prof. Dr. Andreas Fischer of the University of Zurich, Rector Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno of the University of Basel, President Prof. Dr. M. Alain Beretz of the University of Strasbourg and President Piero Martinoli, University of Lugano (Università della Svizzera italiana or USI).  The conversations were informative about the future of global higher education.  The individuals are quite inspiring and very accessible.


In 1985 Andreas Fischer was appointed full professor of English philology at the University of Zurich. From 2004 to 2006 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and from 2006 until his appointment as President of the University of Zurich in 2008 he acted as Vice President for Arts and Social Sciences.  Fischer will retire this year and his replacement is currently in progress.



Professor Loprieno has been Full Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel since the year 2000 and was recently reappointed to an unprecedented third term as Rector. His main research areas include Near Eastern languages and Egyptian cultural history and religion. Prior to his appointment as Rector of the University of Basel, he served as Dean of Studies of the University’s Faculty of Humanities. He heads the Conference of Swiss University Rectors (CRUS).

289579cc705f91ddecd66e9ff568f3a18bb28fa1Professor Beretz graduated in Pharmacy and has been a member of the Pharmacology faculty of the University of Strasbourg since 1990. He was elected in January 2009 as the first president of the University of Strasbourg, resulting from the innovative merger of the three previous universities. He is one of three members of the Board of Directors of LERU (League of European Research Universities).



Professor Piero Martinoli is president of the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano where he has served since September of 2006.  He studied at the ETH Zurich, where he obtained a degree in physics, and his doctorate in physics.



These individuals have graciously greeted the GPP participants and the Global Perspectives Graduate Deans programs throughout their tenure as President.  We have benefited from their expertise and willingness to spend time with us!