In his semesterly interview with campus media last week, President John DeGioia discussed the growth of Georgetown’s connections in India and his optimistic vision for the future of the University’s initiatives there.
In 2009, Kapil Sibal, the Indian Minister of Human Resources and Development, visited Georgetown, participating in a two-hour workshop and delivering a speech. During the same trip he also visited other elite American universities, including Yale.
According to DeGioia, ties with foreign universities are essential for India’s further economic growth:
Part of the challenge for India is they simply don’t have enough higher education infrastructure. If you look at some of their recent reports, they may need as many as 600 new universities to meet the demand now to be able to accomplish what the Chinese have done in the last generation in this next generation in India which is essentially to double the level of college attendance. They have a very strong need for infrastructure, and they’re trying to encourage institutions who have a history of delivering higher education to consider coming in and doing some of that, helping the Indian government move forward in building that infrastructure.
In November 2010, DeGioia delivered the keynote address at a higher education summit held in Delhi by the Indian Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. That visit led to two of the defining aspects of the University’s expanding initiatives in India. At the summit, DeGioia first learned of high-level plans for a US-India Higher Education Summit. After lengthy talks with the State Department, Georgetown hosted that summit in October. Sibal and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened the summit with speeches in Gaston Hall.
The 2009 Delhi summit also inspired the administration to pursue connections with India’s Jesuit educational institutions as a jumping-off point for Georgetown in India:
While there, we had an opportunity with a number of leaders across the higher education sector, just trying to understand the need, the opportunity, what might make sense for Georgetown. What we also learned is that there are eighteen Jesuit colleges, about 150 or so Jesuit high schools- all of them are among the best in the country. And so for Georgetown and India right now, what we’re thinking of is how might we be able to cooperate or collaborate with one or two of those institutions, of the Jesuit colleges, to learn how to work in India and to see what it would be like to create opportunities for students and faculty in India.
DeGioia also suggested that SFS-Qatar would play a significant role in the University’s collaborations in India:
Delhi, where we’ve been working most, New Delhi in particular, is about a three-hour plane flight from Doha. So we’re seeing a strong potential collaboration between our campus in Doha and the opportunities in India. And we’ll just see how those play out over time.
Photo: Tim Markatos