UIU signs Memorandum of Understanding with St. John’s College, Belize
FAYETTE, Iowa (November 23, 2009)—The President of St. John’s College, Belize, Frank S. Garbutt, travelled to Fayette last week to visit with Upper Iowa University President Alan G. Walker and tour the Fayette campus. UIU and St. John’s signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Oct. 10.
“St. John’s is a premier academic institution in Belize, one with which we feel has many commonalities with Upper Iowa University,” said President Walker. “A partnership with this college provides our students and St. John’s students with academic and service learning opportunities that coincide with our vision of producing well-rounded, global citizens.”
This MOU includes specific areas of cooperation between the two schools, such as transfer and articulation agreements between the two schools, financial aid and scholarship opportunities, a study abroad program, prospective service learning trips, as well as plans for faculty exchange and staff professional development.
However, the signed agreement also states that it “…goes beyond traditional- transfer and articulation agreements and creates a close collaboration between St. John’s College and Upper Iowa University.”
According to DeWayne Frazier, UIU senior vice president for international programs, one reason he feels Belize is a natural fit for Upper Iowa University is, like all UIU international locations, it is a former British Commonwealth. He said, “Not only do they speak English, Belizeans have one of the highest literacy rates in Central America, they place a strong value on education.” The Belizean government spends approximately 25% of its national budget on education.
Frazier added that St. John’s College is widely considered one of the best junior colleges in Central America, with two of its most prevalent academic programs being business and environmental science. “These two majors have also been traditionally strong at Upper Iowa University, so a partnership with St. John’s College allows Upper Iowa to have a strong, viable international education partner in the same hemisphere,” he said. “In as little as two flights, one can leave Cedar Rapids and arrive in Belize City.”
President Garbutt is a career educator and is well known throughout Belize. “The missions of St. John’s and Upper Iowa have much in common when it comes to our desire to grant educational opportunities to students who may otherwise never have the opportunity to study at the tertiary level,” said President Garbutt. “By working together and building a strong partnership on our common values, one can easily see how this partnership will result in mutual gains for both institutions.”
Plans are currently underway for Upper Iowa students to make the first service learning trip to Belize this March. For the past six years, UIU has offered students an Alternative Spring Break trip that mixes community service and fun in a positive environment. These trips are chaperoned by UIU Office of Student Development and International Programs staff.
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