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A growing number of university students from France could be attending the University of Wisconsin-Superior in coming years thanks to a new partnership agreement.
The agreement, recently signed by Chancellor Renee Wachter, creates a partnership between UW-Superior and the University of Le Havre, a major European port community at the mouth of the Seine River on France's Normandy Coast.
The agreement includes a student exchange, which will start in the institutions' transportation and logistics management programs. It also allows for joint research, exchange of teaching methods, faculty exchanges and more.
"I think Le Havre is a very good fit for us," said Virginia Donovan, assistant professor of French, who helped craft the plan. Nearly 200 Le Havre students are already studying transportation and logistics in English. Continuing their studying at UW-Superior would be a natural extension of that preparation, she said.
"Having more than one language is critically important in this global economy," Donovan said.
Besides having similar academic programs, Le Havre and UW-Superior share other similarities. Both are in port cities in regions formerly dominated by heavy industry. Both universities are considered smaller public institutions in their home countries.
At 7,200 students, Le Havre is nearly three times the size of UW-Superior. Because so many French students already would be well-prepared to study here, officials believe it will not necessarily be a one-to-one exchange.
"I think it will be very beneficial to the University of Wisconsin-Superior to enhance the international presence on campus," she said.
Having more students from France will be "like a breath of fresh air" at UW-Superior, she continued. "The French people are extremely kind, and have such a rich culture, with so much knowledge of the European Union. They bring such a richness."
Donovan said, UW-Superior students would be able to also study at Le Havre with the right preparation. With four semesters of French, beginning and intermediate, and a one-semester Business French course, "they would do just fine," she said.
The agreement was prompted by Simon Rousset, an international student from France who graduated in 2011 from UW-Superior and saw its similarities to the University of Le Havre. He made the initial contact at Le Havre and piqued the interest of Lydie Pelleray, an English as a Second Language teacher who contacted Donovan.
Donovan in turn contacted Dr. Richard Stewart, chair of the transportation and logistics management program, who signed on. Donovan contacted the Office of International Programs to advise on international enrollment requirements and Suzanne Griffith, associate dean of academic affairs, oversaw the academic aspects of the agreement.
The agreement allows partnerships to expand beyond the transportation and logistics program and Donovan has high hopes.
"I would like to see them become a sister university, not only for business but also for French language study," she said. "I already have three students who are studying in France and I had to send them to other UW schools. It would be nice to send them to our own program."
STORY BY TOM WILKOWSKE. PHOTO BY MARIEL SANTOS
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