Cunningham Trip Builds Bridges with India
Cunningham spent several weeks in India as part of the India Higher Education Administrators
May 5, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University Provost Beth Cunningham was chosen
to travel this semester to India as part of a special program of the Council for International
Exchange of Scholars (CIES), which is known for the Fulbright Program.
Cunningham’s special program, known as the India Higher Education Administrators Seminar,
sent 10 administrators to establish international connections with universities in
“The colleges and universities we visited really wanted to build collaborations,”
said Cunningham, who spent two weeks in India this March. “This trip was to help us
think about ways we could work together in the future as institutions of higher education.”
According to Cunningham’s studies, only about 11 percent of the eligible Indian population
go on to higher education, a stark difference to the estimated 56 percent in developed
nations. “The goal of India’s government is to raise that level to 20 percent within
the next few years,” said Cunningham. “One challenge to that is the lack of faculty
and trained administrators, which is what makes these trips so important.”
Cunningham at the Humayan Tomb with
USIEF Delegation in India.
Participants in the seminar visited such institutions as the Indian Institute of Management
in Bangalore, the Tata Institute for Social Justice and the University of Mumbai.
They also met with members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry,
and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. “Accreditation for universities
in India and the United States is a very similar process,” noted Cunningham.
Cunningham and the others in the seminar asked and answered questions of the officials
and faculty they met in India. “This was a fact-finding mission,” she said. “India
is an incredibly complex place – its history, its people, its culture, its higher
education systems, its many languages – but there are places where I could see our
students and faculty.”
In the future, Cunningham said she hopes more Illinois Wesleyan representatives can
make the journey to India to explore opportunities for faculty and students. “I would
love to see more connections come from this trip,” she said.
Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960