UMD’s Loh Pursues Innovation in Israel and Jordan with Gov. O’Malley

UMD-UMB Collaboration Making Middle East Debut

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh will expand research and academic partnerships in Israel – one of the world’s most entrepreneurial nations – as he accompanies Governor Martin O’Malley on a trade mission to the region. Also, Loh will forge UMD’s first ties with Jordan, during his week in the Middle East.

The mission will mark the Middle East debut of “MPowering the State” – the year-old collaboration between the University of Maryland campuses in College Park and Baltimore. Both institutions are set to formalize an extensive, wide-ranging partnership with Tel Aviv University on the trip. MPowering will also formalize new ties with the University of Haifa.

Among other things, the mission will establish UMD’s first formal, reciprocal student exchanges in the Middle East. Moreover, the trip will open collaborative relations with Jordan’s premiere academic institution – the University of Jordan.

In addition, the College Park campus will sign agreements and expand existing relationships with other key academic and research partners in Israel. These include entrepreneurial programs with Technion, Israel’s premier academic institution for engineering and technical research, which generates most of that nation’s start-up technology firms.

“As our economy strengthens, we know we must look beyond our borders for new avenues for trade and investment, particularly those countries – like Israel – that have invested heavily in supporting entrepreneurs and growing an Innovation Economy,” says Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “I look forward to traveling with this impressive group of educators, business and civic leaders as we work together to grow and expand our already-strong trade and investment ties with Israel and open new doors with Jordan’s business community.”

The University of Maryland already has an extensive network of relationships with major international research universities, well over 300 in all. The goal on this and other international missions is to deepen those relationships into fully realized partnerships.

“Israel is often called ‘start-up nation’ for its abundance of entrepreneurial ventures stemming from university research,” says UMD’s Loh. “Maryland has been recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the most entrepreneurial state in the nation. There is a natural fit with our academic partners in the Middle East. Our goal is to make the most of these possibilities, and bring home tangible benefits for the citizens of Maryland.”

Both of Maryland’s MPowering the State schools are set to finalize memoranda of understanding and exchange agreements with Tel Aviv University. This new “University of Maryland-Tel Aviv Academic Partnership” will provide for a full range of academic and research collaborations in such fields as biotechnology and medicine, including student and faculty exchanges, joint conferences, and joint courses offered in virtual, global classrooms. President Loh will sign for UMD, his Baltimore counterpart, Dr. Jay Perman, will sign for UMB.

“We welcome the expertise and the energy this new collaboration will bring to our laboratories and classrooms,” says Perman.  “The successes our universities in Baltimore and College Park have achieved under MPowering the State show what can be accomplished when great institutions work together.”

Through the University of Maryland-Tel Aviv Academic Partnership, UMD will offer classes covering entrepreneurial and technical areas, as well as classes in Israel Studies, conflict management and public policy.

President Loh’s itinerary will take him to Technion, Tel Aviv University, University of Haifa, and Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment. He will also visit the University of Jordan for discussions and to finalize agreements. At each stop, he will either open ties or enhance existing ones.

In addition to technical and scientific research, the University of Maryland will build on its extensive Middle East studies programming and research in the region, which include the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, the Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, the Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, and the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies.

UMD’s Gildenhorn Chair Yoram Peri, for example, will offer joint courses for Maryland and Tel Aviv students, using online technology to create “global classrooms.” In the area of research, Shibley Telhami, Maryland’s Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, has conducted extensive and rigorous polling throughout the Middle East for years. On the trip, he plans to add to his extensive network of academic pollsters in the region.

“The most effective international partnerships offer multiple points of collaboration – in research, teaching, civic engagement and technology transfer,” says UMD President Loh. “We hope to enrich current partnerships in Israel, and achieve significant new collaborations in the region. By deepening our network of global connections, we can increase our impact and effectiveness for the State of Maryland.”

Loh has emphasized globalization as a primary strategic goal, and has accompanied Gov. O’Malley on trade missions to China and India. Separately, he pursued his own Asia innovation tour of Taiwan and South Korea in 2012.

Crystal Brown


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