The University of Iowa

Indian educators to visit UI, local community for leadership summit Sept. 6-14

August 31st, 2011

Read an article from the Iowa City Press-Citizen featuring this visit.

The following is a University of Iowa News Release


Students, teachers and principals at a school in Chennai, India listen to University of Iowa geography professor Rajagopal “Raj” Rangaswamy discuss undergraduate education at the UI during one of Rajagopal’s many trips to India. The school, Vidya Mandir (Temple of Learning), is one of the top quality English Medium schools in Chennai.

Indian educators to visit UI, local community for leadership summit Sept. 6-14

When Indian K-12 students and educators think of a U.S. education, the first thing that often pops into their minds are Ivy League schools on the east and west coasts.

University of Iowa geography professor Rangaswamy Rajagopal, known simply as “Raj” to many, wants to change that by giving educational leaders in his native India the opportunity to learn about the world-renowned programs at the UI and the world-class education offered through the Iowa City Community School District.

More than 20 Indian educators from Bombay, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, India, will visit the UI campus and local community Tuesday, Sept. 6 through Wednesday, Sept. 14 for the first-ever International School Leadership Summit. The College of Education, International Programs and the Division of Continuing Education are sponsoring the nine-day visit.

The summit will consist of a series of meetings, discussions and field trips to local schools such as City High School and Garner Elementary School as well as meetings with Iowa City Community School District Superintendent Steve Murley, his colleagues and numerous UI faculty, staff and students.

Margaret Crocco, UI College of Education dean, will give the keynote address titled “Education for the 21st Century,” at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Jones Commons of the UI Lindquist Center with welcome remarks and presentations from other UI dignitaries at this and other occasions.

The goals of the summit include providing a professional development program in K-12 leadership, networking opportunities, promoting collaboration between participants and the UI faculty in the areas of research, teaching and service, and exposing participants to UI educational opportunities for graduating seniors, teachers and administrative staff.

Crocco said that this is a chance to showcase the very best that the UI and the local community have to offer.

“We are proud that we have the opportunity to build upon our already strong relationship with India and to share our expertise in a wide range of areas,” Crocco said, “especially in the areas of preparing outstanding educational leaders and providing effective distance education options, something of particular interest to those in India given the geography of the country and the importance of reaching students in both rural and urban areas.”

The visitors will learn about online and distance education, visit Carolyn Wanat’s educational leadership course on school and community relationship, meet with researchers at the College of Education’s Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and learn about the performing arts from Alan MacVey, director of the UI Division of Performing Arts.

The visitors are essentially CEOs of K-12 schools in India, the equivalent of superintendents and principals in the U.S. education system. The difference, Rajagopal said, is that these educational leaders do not necessarily have the same educational background as educational leaders in the United States, often having more of an entrepreneurial business background.

Shared challenges

“There are major challenges in delivering a quality education to students both in the U.S. and in India,” said Rajagopal, steering committee co-convener and professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Rajagopal visited more than 40 schools last year, encouraging their leaders to visit the UI. “This summit will hopefully provide an opportunity to learn from each other.”

Liz Hollingworth, summit co-convener, said that the visit is designed to give the educators insight into many facets of K-12 public education as well as help build an understanding of how educational leaders are trained at the College of Education by visiting selected parts of the UI campus.

“They have questions about everything from ‘How do you feed that many students in the school system?’ to ‘How do you implement technology in a meaningful way?’” said Hollingworth, who is also a professor in the UI College of Education’s Educational Policy and Leadership Program.

While many in the United States worry about students in this country falling behind and losing out on jobs to their Chinese and Indian peers, Hollingworth said that one area the visitors hope to learn about is “how to cultivate students who are creative and who have a deep understanding of the applications of math and science.”

Hollingworth said the experience won’t end with visits to the UI campus and local schools. The group will have a chance to sample the produce at Wilson’s Apple Orchard, visit a local farm, shop in local stores, attend a show at the Riverside Theatre and participate in a yoga class.

The summit builds on strong faculty collaborations and study-abroad links with India. Last academic year, 337 UI students came from India, and 286 UI students studied abroad in India. Over the past five years, Rajagopal, with the assistance of Douglas Lee, summit co-convener with the Division of Continuing Education, and Janis Perkins with the UI Office for Study Abroad, has also worked to create a number of exchanges, programs and links with the most recent development being the India winterim study abroad program.