Folio News Story
January 6, 2006

Our international origins

Folio special edition examines our global position

by Richard Cairney
Folio Staff

From its very beginnings, the University of Alberta has had an international outlook. Founding president Henry Marshall Tory cast a wide net in recruiting faculty members: our first four professors came to Edmonton from Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley and McGill.

That international outlook continued. Tory's commitment to building a university that served not only its local community, but also the world, is seen in the pages of this special edition of Folio. That vision includes the remarkable story of Yuichi Kurimoto, a Japanese student who, during the 1920s, was invited by Tory to attend the U of A and travelled around the world to study here. Had it not been for that invitation, Kurimoto's own dedication to education may not have touched the thousands of lives it has.

The university's focus on international initiatives carries on to this day. In her September installation address, President Indira Samarasekera spoke of the U of A's place in the world.

"Excellent students from other countries bring diverse cultural perspectives to our classrooms," she said. "I was reminded of this just the other evening when I met students from over 40 different countries at International House at the University of Alberta one of 15 such university residences around the world. It brought back memories of my arrival in the United States from Sri Lanka as a Hayes-Fulbright Scholar, and meeting students from every nation on earth. Some of us stayed, and others returned home to become leaders, building bridges between nations.

"More than 2,000 students from 110 countries attend the University of Alberta they are the world's gift to Alberta; let us educate more of them let that be our gift to the world."

That is why Folio has chosen to produce a special issue focusing on international initiatives to find out just how the university influences lives in far-flung corners of the globe, and how students and scholars the world over affect our own lives.

The results of our international relationships are profound, whether it's a faculty member returning home to help during a time of crisis, or a student following his or her passions wherever they might lead.

There are innumerable relationships that bind the University of Alberta with the global community. We have but scratched the surface of those partnerships in these pages.

Our hope is that this special edition provides faculty and staff members with a greater understanding and appreciation of our international relationships and aspirations. A readership survey to be conducted in the coming days by the university's Population Research Lab will measure your response and remember, we always welcome your letters and comments. Write us at richard.cairney@ualberta.ca