The International Partnership Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago has established the International Partnership Program (IPP). This campus-wide program is located within the Office of International Affairs. The Office of International Affairs has overall responsibility for the strategic coordination of international initiatives at UIC.
The IPP addresses institution-level issues in cooperative relationships between UIC and partnering institutions abroad. Currently, UIC undertakes cooperative relationships with universities, foreign governments, international corporations, foundations, major international organizations, and the institutions and associations of civil society inside and outside the United States. The IPP focuses on building and sustaining a framework for robust institutional collaboration at the international level.
A Program for Visiting International Fellows
Under the banner of the IPP, UIC creates and administers programs for short-term, visiting international fellows. Fellows are drawn from institutions abroad which have partnership activities planned or underway with UIC.
IPP programs consist of institutional-level activities intended to maintain healthy partnerships, helping promising international collaborations to achieve their full potential at a rapid pace. Because UIC's international partnerships often include civil society, business, and government organizations in combination with foreign university partners, IPP fellows may be associated with such organizations as well as with universities. For such fellows, UIC will organize customized IPP experiences which will include interactions with government, civil society, and business-- in Chicago, in the Midwest, or in still broader networks of partnering institutions in the United States. The intent is to foster maximally productive working alliances in which multiple institutional systems become resource networks for synergy, not administrative and policy mazes.
Developing and Sustaining Productive Institutional Relationships Through IPP Fellows Programs
In all institutional efforts to grow and sustain productive partnerships, policy and administrative issues can be critical. Deliberate, well-defined efforts at the policy and administrative levels must be undertaken proactively. This is especially so when the national contexts of the primary institutional partners are markedly different in key respects, despite the increasing frequency with which globalization may juxtapose them.
The Visiting Fellows Experience
IPP fellows learn about the administrative and policy infrastructure of an urban, land grant, public, research university in the United States. They learn about the perspective guiding its oversight of research support systems, and about its organizational culture relevant to the conduct of international collaborations. Fellows learn as well, as appropriate to their roles in their home institutions, about UIC's internal organization for the oversight and funding of teaching, public service, and clinical activities relevant to international collaboration. Specific issues typically addressed can include any of the following, as well as others particular to a given partnership:
- the organization and operation of the administrative review process for undertaking inter-institutional faculty and student exchange;
- the division of authority in the administration of individual campuses in a multi-campus system;
- the organization of centralized computer support operations addressing research and teaching in the public research university;
- the concept and operation of a public service mission in a public research university;
- the institutional processes for the continuous monitoring of quality in academic curricula, including the internal and external review processes;
- the relationship of institutional and professional association accreditation to the decisions taken in the U.S. public research university;
- the organization of the relationship with the philanthropic community and individual donors at the university level;
- the role of students in collaborative, sponsored research and its balance with the individual educational needs of the student;
- how the public research university organizes and operates its system for intellectual property identification and protection, and related organization for the support of technology transfer;
- how the public research university organizes and operates centers and institutes to advance outreach and public service;
- the meaning and process of faculty governance in the urban, public, research university;
- risk management, insurance, liability, and procedural systems for protecting institutions and individuals while fostering research, teaching, service, and patient care in the urban, public, research university;
- the management of relations between the public university and for profit corporate partners and corporate donors, relevant to the preservation of institutional autonomy and free academic inquiry, potential parallel issues in the relationship with government agencies; and
- the design, organization, and implementation of multi-institutional, multi-sector partnerships: values, procedures, and structural/legal frameworks of choice, from the public research university's perspective in the U.S. context.
Helping UIC to be an Effective Partner
The association with visiting fellows through the IPP is a two-way relationship providing an important learning opportunity for UIC. Visiting IPP fellows strengthen the capacity of UIC to serve as a desirable and effective international partner in dealings with foreign universities, governments, international organizations, the institutions of civil society abroad, major US government funding sources, and foundations. The presence of visiting IPP fellows at UIC strengthens UIC by enhancing its understanding of the needs and perspectives of international partners from different institutional and national cultures. IPP programs serve as a bridge to advance the mutual understanding of institutional contexts influencing institutional needs, preferences, and concerns. Visiting fellows help UIC to see its institutional partnerships through the eyes of its partners. The result is stronger mutual capacity to anticipate, effectively address, and resolve potential points of friction, to minimize misunderstanding, and to anticipate enhancements of the relationship likely to be valued by the partner as well as being of interest to the proposing institution.
Firsthand Observation Opportunities for US-Based Funding Organizations
The IPP model also provides an opportunity for major funding agencies. IPP is a model for directly addressing organizational issues which can be, at minimum, a source of latent friction in the development of complex international collaborations associated with funded research projects. In severe cases, such frictions can give rise to fundamental obstacles, thwarting the growth of collaborations with otherwise great potential. The IPP approach provides an opportunity to assess the possibilities associated with explicitly addressing issues in structural articulation between diverse administrative and policy environments. Contemporary international collaboration can bring very different systems into close and relatively sudden interaction.
Visits by IPP Fellows are supported by a combination of sources varying with the particular collaborations involved. Such sources include in-kind support through the UIC Office of International Affairs, private foundations in the U.S. and abroad, for-profit corporations abroad, foreign government agencies, the U.S. government, and collaborating foreign universities.