UNC Charlotte has received the University of Cantabria (UniCan) Gold Medal award in recognition of the success of its long-standing partnership with the university. The ceremony was held in Spain on January 27, where UNC Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden, along with a small delegation, traveled to accept the award on behalf of the University.
"I would like to express our sincere appreciation for this wonderful recognition," said Provost Lorden. "Campus internationalization and exchange partnerships contribute significantly to our mission and to be recognized in this way from one of our oldest exchange partners is a special honor."
The Gold Medal award is an honor of distinction, which UniCan gives to only one group or individual annually, recognizing an entity that has had an enormous impact on their campus. The award was presented by Teresa Susinos Rada, Vice Rector for Internationalization of the University of Cantabria. "The Gold Medal awarded to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is to show recognition of the values of responsibility, solidarity and partnership in International Relations, allowing a fruitful exchange between geographically and culturally distant institutions, but institutions which are close in their interests and objectives," said Rada. "This medal symbolizes these principles and it does so by embodying them in this institution, with which we have been maintaining long and invaluable bilateral relations."
Provost Lorden was joined by Robert Johnson, Dean of the College of Engineering; Sheri Spaine Long, Language and Culture Studies; and Joël Gallegos, Assistant Provost for International Programs. Gallegos, who is very proud of the successful relationship that has been established between UNC Charlotte and UniCan, says the partnership underscores the importance of building strong international linkages. "Our international partnerships play such a critical role in the comprehensive internationalization of UNC Charlotte," he said. "This special recognition highlights the value of our network abroad as well as our institutional footprint."
The University of Cantabria is one of UNC Charlotte’s oldest exchange partners, with more than 25 years of collaboration between the two institutions. Over the life of the partnership, more than 500 students from North Carolina have enjoyed the opportunity to study on the campus of UniCan, while also exploring the rich cultural heritage of Spain.
Early on, the institutional exchange focused primarily on the semester in Spain program, which enables students at institutions across the UNC system to travel to Spain and study. Past engagement has included a successful collaboration between UniCan and the UNC Charlotte Colleges of Engineering and Arts + Architecture whereby students from Civil Engineering and Architecture would spend a summer in Spain working on a collaborative project. UNC Charlotte faculty have also enjoyed the benefits of the Universities’ collaboration, serving as resident directors and spending an academic year at the UniCan campus.
Today, the partnership is celebrated through bilateral exchanges between academic disciplines with a goal to proactively pursue engagement and research in areas such as Business Administration, Civil Engineering, Education, and Languages and Culture Studies.
Currently, there are a total of 18 students from six UNC system schools - six from UNC Charlotte - studying in Spain, as part of the exchange. According to Gallegos, UNC Charlotte is in discussion with UniCan about the possible expansion of the partnership.