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February 14, 2014
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Sri Lanka agreement grows SRU's international presence

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Add Sri Lanka to the growing list of countries where Slippery Rock University partners with international institutions. Sponsoring more than 30 international alliances, SRU continues to expand educational opportunity, promote cultural understanding and play a vital role in training a globally competitive workforce.

Most recently, SRU has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Peradeniya, located outside of Kandy, Sri Lanka. The public university educates 11,000 students in the fields of medicine, arts, science, agricultural, engineering, dental sciences and allied health.

The memo of understanding allows for student and faculty mobility and the creation of special interest collaboration, said Pam Frigot, SRU director of international services.

She said Peradeniya is especially interested in SRU's geography, geology and the environment programs and the SRU business curriculum.

A four-person delegation from SRU visited Sri Lanka in January and visited 11 schools. Representing SRU were Frigot, Philip Way, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Susan Hannam, dean of the College of Health, Environment and Science; and Athula Herat, associate professor of physics and pre-engineering.

Frigot said SRU, which currently has 70 international students from 30 countries on campus, has enrolled more than100 Sri Lankans over the years. Many graduates have returned to Sri Lanka and are unofficial ambassadors for their alma mater.

"We know with absolute certainty they speak to the success of the University," she said. "I expected the people to be very warm and gracious, and they were. They give new meaning to the word hospitable, especially our alumni."

Frigot said two main factors drive SRU's interest in international exchange. One, students broaden their understanding of the world by experiencing a different culture and educational system than their own.

"It is a changing, more diverse world," Frigot said. "Slippery Rock University needs to excel in offering multicultural and diverse opportunities. Bringing students to the U.S. or sending our students overseas sets the stage. Their interaction is what makes the difference, where learning transpires on personal and academic platforms, and prepares them for the workforce and job environment they will enter upon graduation."

Understanding global demographic differences and population changes that impact political, environmental and economic stability are cited in "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," SRU's long-term strategic plan that calls for the continued expansion of study abroad, global internships and travel opportunity.

International partnerships also help SRU grow enrollment across campus as well as in key programs, Frigot said.

The SRU team made headway during 11 meetings with different educational institutions by opening dialogues for future opportunities.

One of the team's key visits was to the University of Kelaniya, which is right outside Colomo, where educators there focused on learning about SRU's arts and humanities majors.

Founded in 1875 as a center of learning for Buddhist monks, Kelaniya has grown and offers programs that are uncommon in Sri Lanka, including industrial management, microbiology, linguistics and Hindi. Kelaniya is a suburb of Colombo, the capital city.

Frigot said SRU has agreements in place with schools in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and UK. They offer a variety of international opportunities for students, faculty, including student teaching and semester-long exchange programs.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.