Before you get your red pen out to mark up what I’m sure you thought was a typo in my spelling of Glocal, think again. I wish I could take credit for the phrase glocalization but the truth is I read it awhile ago and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it so when I saw Kent State’s announcement of it’s ribbon cutting ceremony at Van Campen Hall honoring it’s partnership with Bahcesehir University in Istanbul Turkey I thought now was my chance. Interestingly Kent has developed a strong relationship with Turkey mostly through the Kent State Justice Studies program and our Kent Police Force but it has grown beyond that into friendships with high ranking officials in Turkey. Kent is on Turkey’s map, which is pretty cool given how different we are geographically and culturally. Which is exactly what glocalization is all about.
Kent is surprisingly globally local in many ways. Thanks to the university we have many international students, faculty and visitors that have made Kent their home away from home and while they’re here they add a terrific mix to our community. I keep thinking of that old comedy routine where the comic always said “what a great country” — the same could be said for Kent “what a great city.”
When you look down our list of community assets that make up the Kent brand the foreign flavor of the people that live here has to be near the top. Our neighbors can compete with us in many areas — they can even go out and build new historic downtowns to look like our real one — but they can’t copy our people matter (at least I hope not, if cloning ever becomes a division of the economic development department it’s time to get out of the profession).
So as a faithful supporter of leading with your advantages I feel like our rather quiet international contingent is a sleeping giant when it comes to Kent’s future. That’s why I’m anxious to do more to cultivate and integrate our foreign community better into the Kent socio-economic fabric. Which is a fancy way of saying I want to know what the City can do better or more of to make sure our global folks feel welcome, safe and excited by the opportunities that we have for them in Kent.
The University has numerous programs and services for international students and families but the City needs to be in that game too. Not just because we’re a socially conscious sort of community but also because when you look at some of our best business success stories that have spun out of the University many of them are led by foreign born entrepreneurs. This isn’t just philanthropy, this is economic development in a glocal world.
The business that helped me realize the power of internationalization was Alpha Micron. Earlier this year the CEO of Alpha Micron (Bahman Taheri) led me on a tour of his research facility here in Kent and as he introduced me to his staff I felt like I was on a UN Tour. Bahman has hired folks from all over the world on purpose because he says each culture brings unique strengths to the team which he has built into his business plan.
Bahman’s enthusiasm for cultural diversity is contagious and as a City Manager I’m trying to figure out what we can do to cultivate that same cultural energy throughout the community. Thanks to a little unexpected synchronicity, I had the good fortune of meeting a Kent State graduate who is looking for some work to do over the summer here in Kent rather than going back to her home in Romania. She speaks a half-dozen different languages and is really smart (she’s getting her 2nd master degree) so I have offered her an internship with the City to work with us on this really important part of our community.
It may be as simple as landing some new Thai or Turkish restaurants in Kent or it could be as complex as a new Cultural Commision. I don’t know yet but we’re definitely going to be looking at best practices this summer so that we can make progress on Kent’s version of glocalization.
Ceremony Honored Partnership between KSU & Turkish University
A ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring a new partnership between Kent State University and Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey, took place on Tuesday, April 8 at Van Campen Hall. An older building on campus, Van Campen Hall has been saved from demolition by this new agreement, which builds on Kent State’s internationalization plan to increase the revenue-generating capacity of the university’s international affairs, as well as increase the number of international students and scholars on the Kent Campus.
“Under the new administration, Kent State is expanding its global family of institutions to provide rich international educational opportunities for all of our students and faculty,” said Vice Provost Dr. Steve O. Michael. “This entails creating our presence in other countries and serving as a host to our partnering institutions from overseas.” Kent State President Dr. Lester A. Lefton and Provost Dr. Robert G. Frank as well as Bahcesehir University President Dr. Deniz Ulke Aribogan spoke briefly at the ceremony.
In addition, Bahcesehir University officially opened an office in Van Campen Hall today. They plan to move students into the facility by this summer or fall. “This type of institutional co-habitation and co-location is a new phenomenon in higher education,” said Michael. “It allows institutions to take partnership and collaboration to a new level, enabling institutions to become multinational, and providing an active pipeline for students and faculty exchange, as well as opportunities for joint-degree programming.”
First, the group will renovate the hall in collaboration with the Office of the University Architect. Funded by Bahcesehir University, the potential several-million-dollar renovation and lease of Van Campen Hall also will provide space to establish a Center for Turkish Studies. The center will offer students practical, experiential training in a program for English as a second language, in addition to conducting research and extending outreach services to companies interested in doing business in Turkey.
For the past six years, Kent State University and Bahcesehir University have had a memorandum of understanding, which includes sending faculty and students to Turkey and, in return, receiving their students and faculty at Kent State. Currently, 30 Bahcesehir University graduates are studying at Kent State for their master’s degree in areas such as education, technology and communication studies, in addition to taking ESL courses.
“Bahcesehir University’s presence brings international scholars and students to Kent State. The proposed Center for Turkish Studies will provide both learning and research opportunities. It is a win-win initiative for everyone involved,” said Michael.