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UK Builds Relationships, Assists Pakistani Business Schools

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A group of University of Kentucky faculty, staff and administrators recently traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan, to sign new partnerships and conduct an intensive three-day workshop with a consortium of five business schools from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, located in the northwest of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border.

The UK group included Nancy Johnson, associate professor in the Gatton College of Business and Economics; Kathi Kern, director of Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT); Kathryn Cunningham, faculty and instructional consultant in CELT; Jeanette Coufal, educational consultant; and Gary Gaffield, assistant provost for international partnerships.

“The three-day ‘Tuning Workshop’ is designed to align curriculum and establish common programmatic outcomes across the KP business schools,” said Cunningham. “The goal was to develop learning outcomes associated with student competency, allowing everyone to agree on what students should know when they graduate and how to measure their success.”

The workshop was also an opportunity for UK to get acquainted with the consortium, and for the schools in the consortium to get better acquainted with each other.  Although the consortium’s vice chancellors already coordinate on policy and fiscal issues, the conference served as an opportunity to strengthen and expand their connections among university faculty. 

“There’s enormous value for institutions in the same region and the same field to be working together,” Gaffield said. “Their programs should not compete, they can, but they should complement each other. The Tuning Workshop helped these schools understand their individual strengths and how to successfully function as a consortium of institutions that provide quality business programs to their region.”

The workshop established a strong mechanism for on-going curriculum development and reinforced the important roles of various stakeholders (government, faculty, students, alumni, the business community).

Johnson said that the workshop was a faculty-driven process.

“We were there to facilitate," Johnson said. "The workshop was about identifying their goals, their objectives and stakeholders for each program and to bring them together thoughtfully.”

The overarching goal of the visit was to improve the quality of education; to build relationships between universities, the private sector and other employers; and to provide pathways to success for university graduates.

“By our being there, not as government officials, I think it communicates the interest of the American people. That the United States wishes to develop friendly, close relationships not just government to government, or institution to institution, but person to person, people to people. And I think there’s real value in that,” said Gaffield.

The visit was part of a $1.7 million grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of State, to partner with universities in the KP province, through the “University Partnership in Business Administration” program. The Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar are facilitating the program to support higher education in Pakistan and to increase collaborations between U.S. and Pakistani universities.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad
The mission of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad — and the consulate generals in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi — is to promote bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan and to foster economic and commercial relations. Embassy activities focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting nonproliferation and regional stability, fighting international terrorism, combating narcotics production and trafficking and fostering expanded trade and investment.