Representatives of the State University of New York system traveled to Havana, Cuba in February to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, the first such agreement Cuba has entered into with a U.S. university or system.
This historic pact paves the way for new collaborations between SUNY’s 64-campus system and the 22 institutions overseen by the Cuban Ministry. It is the product of an initiative begun in 2015, when Cuban and SUNY officials began meeting to map out ways of creating international learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.
SUNY New Paltz Dean of International Programs Bruce Sillner has been critically involved in the effort to forge new partnerships with higher education counterparts in Cuba, as one of the delegates on an early SUNY envoy to Cuba in October 2015, and as host of a Cuban delegation here on campus in November 2016.
Sillner also was instrumental in forging a collaborative relationship between New Paltz and the Instituto Superior de Diseño (ISDI), the only design institution in Cuba.
“We’re pleased to be able to position New Paltz at the forefront of reestablishing academic partnerships between Cuba and the U.S.,” Sillner said. “Our agreement with the ISDI gives our faculty, staff and students an excellent opportunity to share creative approaches to addressing societal needs. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Cuba and in SUNY to develop new, sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships.”
The most recent SUNY delegation was led by SUNY Provost Alexander Cartwright and included Dean Sillner and SUNY New Paltz Provost Lorin Basden Arnold. Over the course of a week, the group visited six Cuban education institutions, the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and a number of cultural sites.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by Cartwright and Cuban Vice Minister of Higher Education Aurora Fernández González. It outlines plans along a number of areas of cooperation, detailing ideas for collaborative research, participation in international events, and expanded study abroad opportunities for students.