USM President Glenn Cummings and Ari Kristinn Jónsson, the president of Iceland’s Reykjavik University, have signed an agreement aimed at expanding the relationship between the two schools and providing more opportunities for student and faculty exchanges.
“It shows that we want to further what began 18 months ago when I had the honor of joining Dr. Jónsson in Reykjavik.” Cummings said at the March 17th signing. “It’s a delightful partnership and, more importantly, it has very substantive meaning to this region, to this state and to the world.”
The two presidents signed an addendum to a memorandum that was initially signed in August 2016.
“We’re actually not just signing documents, we’re actually exchanging students and creating novel programs to do things we haven’t done before,” Jónsson said. “That is something I am thrilled about and oh so grateful for.”
Trips between the schools will increase this year.
Fifteen students from USM’s Tourism and Hospitality program and another 15 from the Honors program have scheduled trips to Iceland, as have two graduate students from the Public Health program within the Muskie School of Public Service.
This spring, deans from Reykjavik University plan to visit USM. It’s a trip that will be reciprocated by USM deans in the fall. Both trips aim to foster development of new academic programs that help students in Maine and Iceland.
And this summer, a graduate student in Clinical Psychology from Reykjavik University will travel to Portland for two months to work with people at the Muskie School’s Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy.
“I look forward to many many more years and decades of increasingly tighter and closer collaboration between our universities,” said Jónsson, who was accompanied by five of his students.
The five traveled to Portland as the winners of a “Hnakkathon” contest aimed at finding efficiency within the seafood industry. The group came up with an attractively packaged, and new, speedy way of delivering fresh fish to foreign markets.
Also attending the event was a representative of Iceland’s Eimskip transport services company. He announced plans for a new pilot project aimed at placing USM students in its Iceland office and Reykjavik University students in its Portland office.
“We are here to strengthen ties between countries and universities,” said Olafur William Hand, a senior manager at Eimskip Corporate Office. “Eimskip understands the important role it plays in Maine. Eimskip hopes, by taking part in this project between the universities, we will see innovation and cooperation to be envied.”