German ties foster unique learning opportunities

By Daniel Morgan, Editor
West Liberty University is furthering its outreach by forging a new partnership with Julius-Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany. 

Dr. Miriam Roth-Douglas, German-native and Director of West Liberty’s Community Education Program, arranged the partnership while acting as a liaison between the two schools. Starting as a thought between Douglas and a JMU professor in 2015, she and others worked together and formalized a memorandum of understanding in November, which WLU President Dr. Stephen Greiner recently signed.
The agreement offers three opportunities: a two-week intensive study abroad summer trip at JMU for West Liberty students, a semester-long study abroad program for both WLU and JMU students, and a faculty exchange program allowing professors to switch places and teach a semester abroad.
“I am very pleased that I was able to help West Liberty University enter into a partnership with a university as prominent as Julius Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany,” Douglas said. “For me, coming from that area and knowing the university so well, it’s very special to take students on a study abroad trip to my home country and share with them not only some of my former experiences, but also a part of my culture and community.”
Douglas admits she was momentarily discouraged that the process became “stagnant” for a while, but she persisted and the project moved quickly throughout the end of 2017. 
“Mia Szabo [WLU’s Director of International Enrollment Services] was very supportive in the process,” Douglas said. Douglas’ work was encouraged by the Dean of the College of Education and Human Performance Cathy Monteroso and President Greiner. 
“I am very excited about our partnership with the prestigious Julius-Maximilians University,” Greiner said.  “It will be a wonderful opportunity for West Liberty University students to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the people and history of Germany, and to experience a different style of education.”
Addendums to the memorandum will be made in the future to specify the logistics of the partnership. “The memorandum of understanding is a great beginning of the partnership. The next step now is to work on more details, which can be added to the memorandum,” Douglas said. 
This year’s upcoming study abroad trip, which will benefit from this new partnership, takes place July 11-25 this summer. The trip can be used as an internship/international community experience for Community Education students as well as different course credits for students university and state-wide.
JMU was founded in 1402 and maintains close partnerships with universities spanning the globe. The prestigious school offers more than 200 study programs and enrolls more than 28,000 students, 2,300 of which study abroad.
“I really enjoy seeing West Liberty University partner with a German university,” said Luca Seisler, a German WLU marketing student. “This is a great opportunity in which students will greatly benefit by learning more about the other country.”
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