The long game of learning: Higher ed MOUs show partnerships take time

SEOUL, South Korea — Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Kean University signed Memoranda of Understanding on Wednesday with three leading universities in South Korea. In doing so, they became just the latest examples of a well-known business rule: Partnerships take time.

The signings came during the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission. Gov. Phil Murphy said they prove that some things are worth the wait.

“One of our intentional strategies over the past six years is to deepen relations between and among institutions of higher education, largely for research and/or exchange programs of faculty and students,” he said. “And then, secondarily, to deepen the relationship between the institutions of higher education on the one hand, and the real economy in New Jersey on the other hand.

“We’ve been at this for almost six years, and we’ve done a lot of these international missions, but no mission comes close to the number of engagements and relationships that we’re fostering, as this one does.”

A look at the agreements:

Rutgers and Seoul National University

Rutgers and Seoul National University have a longstanding partnership that began in 2009, primarily focused on student exchange.

This MOU aims to expand that partnership beyond student exchange to faculty visits and research collaboration. Both universities are encouraged to offer joint courses and distance learning opportunities.

Rutgers Chief Operating Officer Tony Calcado said the schools have much in common.

“As Korea’s flagship university, you believe, as we do, that society flourishes through education, and that education should be as broad and as well-rounded as possible,” he said. “Today, we continue down that path. And we will accomplish both as we continue to educate young minds in making society that much better for all.”

The connection is perhaps deeper than most realize: SNU President Ryu Hong Lim is a graduate of Rutgers.

Kean and both Soongsil University and Sangmyung University

The MOU between Kean University and Soongsil University reaffirms a previous agreement made in February 2020 that aims to develop and foster academic and educational cooperation between the two universities.

Kean President Lamont Repollet said he is eager to have that relationship grow.

“These agreements create cross-cultural experience to students, who will become the next generation of leaders — and also foster international research and collaboration and innovation,” he said.

“The agreements with these two outstanding universities built upon partnerships we’ve already established, partnerships which already are producing results for our students and faculty, with the full expectation of more positive interactions to come.”

NJIT and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute

The MOU between the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, otherwise known as “KASI,” or “Cassie,” is primarily an extension of an MOU that first started in 2014 (and was reaffirmed in 2019).

The partnership, which focuses primarily on collaborative research in solar physics, allows scientists and engineers from KASI to utilize solar instruments owned by NJIT at the Big Bear Solar Observatory — which is located in Big Bear, California.

The researchers will share observational data and expertise and theoretical knowledge of data analysis.