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University signs agreement with two Swiss universities

By Catherine Doss

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 31 - May 21, 1998

Virginia Tech has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with two Swiss universities that will facilitate cooperative initiatives in the areas of instruction, student exchange, research, and community service.
The Swiss schools are located in the same region of the country where Virginia Tech operates its Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA).
"This agreement lays the foundation for future collaboration between students and faculty members, as well as the possibility of pursuing joint research projects in the future," said Charles Steger, vice president for Development and University Relations. "It will be valuable to students from both Switzerland the United States."
The Swiss schools are L'Università della Svizzera Italiana (also known as the University of Lugano) and Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera. Both are located in the Ticino canton (province) of Switzerland, south of the Alps and near Milan. Scuola Universitaria Professionale is an advanced vocational/technical college, while the University of Lugano offers degrees in business, communication sciences, and architecture.
The University of Lugano was established in 1996 and is the first Italian-language university in Switzerland. It draws mostly local students from the surrounding Italian-speaking region of the country, although its business courses are primarily taught in English. The school's business and communications programs are located in the town of Lugano, while its Academy of Architecture is located in Mendrisio, just a few miles from Riva San Vitale where CESA is located.
Under the terms of the agreement, the University of Lugano will provide CESA an Internet connection and web page through its server and will allow Virginia Tech students to use its library facilities, including the Swiss national university Interlibrary Loan System.
In addition, students from all three schools may audit courses at any of the partner schools, thus giving Virginia Tech and Swiss students opportunities to interact and work together on assigned group projects.
"These types of cross-cultural opportunities are invaluable," said Arthur Hirsh, CESA director. "In addition, some potential benefits for the Swiss schools is the opportunity to tap into Virginia Tech's considerable resources in the United States."
Virginia Tech recently hosted a visit by Mauro Martinoni, director of university studies for the canton of Ticino. The week-long visit to campus enabled Martinoni to learn more about Virginia Tech and facilitated discussions of future linkages, including the possibility of a more formal student-exchange agreement between Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the University of Lugano's Academy of Architecture.
Operating out of a 200-year-old villa, CESA offers a unique learning environment for more than 100 Virginia Tech students each year. Students represent a number of majors and while at CESA, engage in a variety of disciplines, including architecture, art, history, foreign languages, interior design, and business.