The Vice-Chancellor

University of Exeter to establish US Foundation

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Steve Smith returned to the USA this month to meet with some of the University of Exeter’s alumni in the country and to announce plans to establish a new Foundation based in America to facilitate fundraising for the University. 

Sir Steve informed alumni in New York of plans to submit an application to create an American tax-exempt non-profit organisation later this year. The University of Exeter US Foundation will enable US residents, companies and charities to support Exeter’s research and teaching in a more tax efficient manner.  The Foundation will necessitate the creation of a US board of advisers, the membership of which will be revealed in the autumn. 

Sir Steve said, “As Exeter’s international profile strengthens, we are engaging with the United States more than ever before. Applications from American students to study with us have grown 114% in the last five years, with post-graduate taught applications up 200%. For the first time, we anticipate hosting over 200 American students at Exeter in the forthcoming academic year.”

“This growth means our alumni base in the US is expanding rapidly.  Exeter has over 1,700 US alumni, and they tell us they want to help sustain our success. We therefore hope the establishment of a University of Exeter US Foundation will help them support research and teaching across our campuses more easily.”

While in New York, Sir Steve hosted a reception for over 60 US alumni, and introduced them to the University’s new Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Sarah Jarman, who joined Exeter a week earlier.  Sarah commented, “The fact that my first week at Exeter involved a transatlantic trip really demonstrates that Exeter’s approach to alumni engagement is increasingly international. In the future, we aim to connect more frequently with our American alumni right across the country through a series of events.”

Prior to visiting New York, Sir Steve spoke at the British Council’s Going Global conference. Sharing the stage with Dr Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida (USF), they discussed the importance of transatlantic partnerships. Their conversation offered the audience insights into their leadership styles and strategic approaches while highlighting the substantial benefits accrued, and challenges faced, in the evolution of the partnership between the Exeter and USF.

Sir Steve concluded that the role of a Vice-Chancellor/President in any international collaboration is to build the narrative of international collaboration, to embed permanently that institutional memory, and to garner the support of the senior management team.  This in turn enables the institution to carve out resources to support partnerships, in an environment of competing demands for reserves and where opportunity costs are real – a sentiment shared by President Genshaft.

They were joined on stage by two current students, one British and one American, who have taken part in Study Abroad programmes at USF and Exeter.  Since 2011, 50 students from both institutions have participated in the Exeter-USF Exchange Programme and a further 48 USF students have joined the University of Exeter International Summer School following its inception in 2010. 

There has also been substantial progress in research collaboration between USF and Exeter in the last four years.  Almost 100 faculty and administrative staff visits have been made between the two institutions and over 60 faculty members are involved in existing or planned collaborative projects. Joint research has been supported financially by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health in the US, and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council.

As well as his speaking engagement, Sir Steve held meetings in Miami with senior representatives from Japan to discuss the importance of international collaboration, a topic that he will lead a conference on in Tokyo later this year. Sir Steve also attended high-level meetings with ministerial officials from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on behalf of the UK’s HE sector.




Date: 6 May 2014

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