UA Ruhr News Center

15. 05. 2024

Liaison office in New York City celebrates its 20th anniversary

The Liaison Office North America of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr) has been promoting international cooperation in research and teaching since 2004. At the anniversary celebration on 9 May in New York, the three presidents of TU Dortmund University, Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Duisburg-Essen looked back on 20 years of transatlantic cooperation and initiated new contacts for institutional partnerships.

Under the name “ConRuhr”, the three major universities in the Ruhr region opened their first joint liaison office in 2004, based in the German Center for Research and Innovation DWIH in New York City. This satellite office was a prelude to the alliance that the three partners founded in 2007 under the name University Alliance Metropolis Ruhr (UAMR), now known as UA Ruhr for short. The rectorates at the time were united by the common goal of raising the profile of the Ruhr region as a research and education area in the USA and strengthening links with partners in North America. Over the past two decades, the Liaison Office North America has supported the three universities in establishing a presence at education fairs in the USA, organizing scientific conferences in New York and expanding academic partnerships.

Scholarship programs with tradition

The scholarship programs coordinated by the liaison office have a special tradition in the exchange between the USA and the UA Ruhr and are continuously expanded. For example, the Ruhr Fellowship Program has already enabled around 100 students from elite US universities such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale to spend time in the Ruhr region since 2012. The program features a combination of a summer school at the UA Ruhr and an internship at a company in the region. In turn, the “Transatlantic Ruhr Fellowship” provides local students with a scholarship for a similar stay in the New York metropolitan area. The “Future's Fellows Program”, which enables young academics from the UA Ruhr to finance a research project in the USA, was launched in the anniversary year. With this scholarship program, the UA Ruhr aims to strengthen research cooperation with the USA in future-oriented fields. The Ministry of Culture and Science NRW has provided around 70,000 euros in funding for the first cohort from the Future Fund. “We have selected three outstanding young researchers who will use the money to complete a guest stay at Lehigh University, Cornell University and the University of Virginia in 2024,” reports Priya Nayar, who has been managing the liaison office since 2021.

© Nathalie Schueller

Expanding partnerships

Expanding partnerships with universities in the USA and Canada continues to be an important strategic goal of the UA Ruhr, as the university leaders emphasized at the Presidents' Round Table at the German Consulate. “Addressing Global Challenges - The Intersection of Science, Diplomacy, and Academia”: At the anniversary celebration, Prof. Dr. Barbara Albert, Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Prof. Dr. Manfred Bayer, President of TU Dortmund University, and Prof. Dr. Martin Paul, Rector of Ruhr University Bochum, discussed how cooperation in academic research can contribute to mastering major challenges such as climate change, the energy transition and digitalization as an international community. Universities need to aim at developing innovative solutions through scientific exchange and promoting intercultural understanding through “science diplomacy”, was the conclusion of the successful network meeting. “The Liaison Office North America makes a significant contribution to networking cutting-edge research from the Ruhr region internationally and further expanding the scientific excellence of the UA Ruhr,” the presidents agreed. The UA Ruhr is invited to submit four clusters in the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments and intends to apply jointly as a Consortium of Excellence in 2025. An important building block for success in this competition are the diverse and long-standing international relationships of the university alliance.

Caption (from left to right): Celebrating the anniversary of the Liaison Office together with other guests: Prof. Gerhard Schembecker, President of the Liaison Office North America and Vice- President Finance of TU Dortmund University, Priya Nayar, Executive Director of the Liaison Office North America, RUB Rector Prof. Martin Paul, UDE Rector Prof. Barbara Albert, Dr. Jan Lüdert, Program Director of DWIH New York, and TU President Prof. Manfred Bayer.