UAA signs into partnership agreement with National University of Mongolia

Last month, UAA signed a partnership agreement with the National University of Mongolia.

This agreement will open doorways to collaborative research and faculty and student exchanges. John Duffy, adjunct professor for UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy, began visiting Mongolia in March to work on civil service reform, among other projects. He decided to look into the National University of Mongolia to talk about local government.

Interim Provost Duane Hrncir and Interim Chancellor Sam Gingerich signed the partnership agreement with the National University of Mongolia on Nov. 30.
Interim Provost Duane Hrncir and Interim Chancellor Sam Gingerich signed the partnership agreement with the National University of Mongolia on Nov. 30. Photo credit: UAA Advancement

“All of a sudden, I’m lecturing in all these classes and recently, I was teaching doctoral level courses over there and helping faculty develop the program,” Duffy said.

Alaska and Mongolia share similar qualities, such as impacts of climate change and having natural resource-based economies. This led Duffy to consider establishing an official connection between UAA and NUM.

After consulting with his colleagues in Mongolia, they wrote the basic agreement that would lay the foundation for joint research and other educational opportunities for the universities.

Duffy wants to connect UAA’s Mongolian Students Society with NUM’s student parliament in hopes that the students can collaborate and work on projects or capstones together.

Geser Bat-Erdene is the president of the Mongolian Student Society and says that he is happy to see a relationship forming between UAA and NUM.

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“[When I was] a USUAA senator, for a long time I’d been advocating for establishing relationships not only between cities and countries but between universities,” Bat-Erdene said.

One of the first projects Duffy looks forward to doing is helping improve Mongolia’s civil service. An issue that he witnessed was instability within the public administration, especially if there was a change in political party.

“When a new party comes into power, they remove anyone who is not in that party… even like the director of hospitals leaves if you’re not with the political party in power,” Duffy said. “When that happens, you lose your institutional knowledge and experience.”

Duffy believes encouraging participation from the public and offering collaborations from UAA’s end of the agreement could help reform Mongolia’s civil service.

For Bat-Erdene, promoting UAA in his home country has been a long-time goal while attending school in Alaska.

“I think in any country, especially Mongolia, they have a perception that if you go to the U.S., if it’s not Harvard or Yale, other institutions are not very good,” Bat-Erdene said. “My goal is to promote University of Alaska and make people understand that different colleges have different strengths.”

MSS actively uses social media, like Facebook, to share experiences and cultural content between Mongolia and Alaska. Recently, they’ve engaged in a movement called “We Are Global Citizens,” which invites all students to help promote diversity across the University of Alaska system.

Bat-Erdene and other Mongolian students have been making an effort to maintain relationships with those at NUM. They are also looking forward to the president of NUM, Tumurbaatar Yadmaa, visiting UAA in February of 2018.

Though the agreement is still new and ideas are in the air, Duffy believes that the partnership will foster educational tasks and opportunities for both universities.

National University of Mongolia president Tumurbaatar Yadmaa stands with other NUM professors, lecturers, and German university interns after the signing.
National University of Mongolia president Tumurbaatar Yadmaa stands with other NUM professors, lecturers, and German university interns after the signing. Photo credit: John Duffy.

“I think just being exposed to different challenges will help the students. For the faculty, it’s almost the same thing but it’s more research-bound… and comparing and contrasting Alaska and Mongolia,” Duffy said.

The news of this new partnership should inspire other students, Bat-Erdene says. He hopes that it will set an example for others who are eager to make these kinds of connections.

“The main goal is to raise awareness and incentivize other students to be active as well,” Bat-Erdene said.