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Professor Frank Talty’s address

A little over one year ago, in September of 2008, Queen’s University Pro Vice Chancellor Gerry MacCormac visited our campus for the first time. He knew of Lowell and our reputation in the sciences and engineering. He was encouraged no doubt by our good friend Art McCabe to look at Lowell as a possible international collaborator.

For two days we showed Gerry what is special and unique about this University and a reciprocal visit was quickly planned.

Six weeks later, in November, a delegation from Lowell visited Ireland, charged with exploring possible programmatic, scholarship and research collaborations. We toured and met with dozens of faculty and leaders in both Dublin and Belfast.

That team consisting of U Mass Lowell Professors Susan Braunhut, Steve McCarthy, Ann Marie Hurley, Alex Case, Bridgitte Budhalal and me, identified and reported back to the Provost on 33 potential collaborations principally between Lowell and Queens, St. Mary’s University Belfast, Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin. The collaboration ideas cut across the disciplines, from Cancer research to nano-manufacturing to music to conflict resolution and Irish studies.

By mid winter we had developed a” Framework for Institutional Collaboration” between U Mass Lowell and Queen’s University Belfast. In March of this year, as Chancellor Meehan already mentioned, he, Provost Abdelal and most of our faculty team travelled to Belfast to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between our two institutions.

While in Belfast, we were hosted at St. Mary’s University on the Falls Road in West Belfast. There we welcomed by a friend of Chancellor Meehan’s from his political visits to Northern Ireland in his work on the peace process, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, and by St. Mary’s Head of School Peter Finn. We discussed the potential for student experiences at St. Mary’s and in the West Belfast community.

Since that March visit a lot has happened:

1. Six U Mass Lowell students with the financial assistance of our alumni and the advancement office here, enrolled in the Queen’s University International Summer School. (number) of those students are here with us tonight. Will the students please raise your hands?

2. In March, Queen’s Professor of Archeology Colm Donnelly proposed a joint study of pre and post famine emigration from Northern Ireland to Lowell. (slides here).

–      Dr Donnelly reviewed the historical research on Irish famine emigration and identified a site in County Fermanagh to the west of Belfast called the famine road.

–      He then researched the American destinations of many of the emigrants and identified Lowell as a prime location for further study, in fact relying in part on the work of Lowell’s own Brian Mitchell, who is now President of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

–      And so the Acre section of the city where the Lowell Irish settled surrounding St. Patrick’s Catholic Church just a short distance down the street, was identified as the focus of the post famine study.

–      The plan is to engage students from Lowell and Queen’s in a 4 week program, two weeks in Fermanagh and two weeks in Lowell each summer for five years with the end product being a complete examination of how these Irish lived before and after the famine in their country of origin and in their new home here in the US.

3. For the next academic year, we are in the process of organizing full semester study for U Mass Lowell students at Queen’s this coming fall and St. Mary’s the next spring.

We hope to provide similar opportunity for  our students to study at DCU as well.

4. (As the Chancellor already mentioned) just last month Provost Abdelal announced the creation of the U Mass Lowell Center for Irish Partnerships. The Center’s stated mission is “to work with Irish partners to create a dynamic model for cross Atlantic collaboration that will promote and advance U Mass Lowell’s goals to enhance the student experience by providing a global perspective to teaching and research, while contributing to Irish interests through exchange and service” The Center also aims to serve as a source of Irish-American cultural activity in the New England area.

I am proud to represent U Mass Lowell at the “Gateways to Tomorrow” conference at Boston’s World Trade Center. At the conference I am able to share our experiences with Irish Higher Educational collaboration to a crowd of business and government leaders from New England and Ireland.

So in a very short time, we have seen tremendous excitement and substantive programmatic development in this new relationship. I know I express the sentiments of my colleagues in this endeavor that we look forward to continued growth and success of the Lowell Irish partnership.

In late October, we will host an emerging technologies conference with our colleagues from Dublin City University and Queen’s University Belfast at the new UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center. This conference will focus on developments in biomaterals, biopharmaceuticals and bioprocessing, medical devices, nano/bio sensors and nanomanufacturing. For more information, please visit www.uml.edu/emergingtech.

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