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President Bruininks and University of Life Sciences rector Knut Hove shaking hands at the table over signed agreements

At the University of Life Sciences in Aas, rector Knut Hove, left, and University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks shook hands after signing an agreement supporting continued work in biosciences.

U delegation to Norway advanced research in key areas

Group also explored technology and medicine

Brief, June 14, 2006

The University of Minnesota continues to strengthen ties with Norway, building on a strong historical connection with the people of Minnesota.

A delegation led by University President Robert Bruininks traveled to Norway between May 25 and June 2, visiting partner universities in Oslo, Bergen, and Aas as well as government officials, some of whom are University alumni. The U.S. ambassador to Norway, University Law School alumnus Benson Whitney, joined the delegation in Oslo.

The trip follows a $750,000 gift to the University presented last year by Norway's Crown Prince Haakon Magnus for an endowed faculty chair in the fields of renewable energy and microbial genetics. The chair holder will oversee six or more transatlantic research teams, which are made up of graduate students from Norway and the United States already at work--three focusing on biofuels and three on food safety and bovine genomics.

Leading delegation members

Robert Bruininks

President

Kathryn Brown
Vice president and chief of staff

Tim Mulcahy
Vice president for research

Robert Elde
Dean, College of Biological Sciences

Deborah Powell
Dean, Medical School

Peter Hudleston

Associate dean, Institute of Technology

Lanny Schmidt
Regents Professor, chemical engineering and materials sciences

Daniel Bond
Assistant professor, Biotechnology Institute

Robert Kvavik
Associate vice president for academic affairs and professor, political science

"These are fields where we have research strengths across our university and have the potential to be a world leader in environmental and renewable energy issues," says Bruininks. "It's rare that a national government votes to support higher education in another country, but that's the special nature of our relationship with Norway and its people."

The partnership effectively brings the U into European policy discussions about renewable energy, says College of Biological Sciences dean Robert Elde, who was part of the delegation. The University is invited to meetings in conjunction with a European Union conference in September.

"The whole world is facing global warming and renewable energy issues," Elde says. "This exchange gives us a valuable opportunity to share ideas with European nations."

Minnesota and Norway share similar forest environments and the potential for renewable energy based on farm and forest products. Norway has domestic sources of oil but, like Minnesota, recognizes the need to develop alternative fuels and effective conservation strategies.

Minnesota and Norway also have a strong a strong historic relationship. More than 850,000 people--20 percent of Minnesotans--claim Norwegian heritage.

Norwegian alumnus Egil Stokstad talking with Susan Hagstrum at an outdoor reception
Alumnus Egil Stokstad, '37, right, talked with Susan Hagstrum, left, at a reception for U alumni. Photo by R. Kvavik.

A reception for University of Minnesota alumni in Norway was a highlight of the trip. In the group of 86 people who attended was Egil Stokstad, School of Dentistry, '37, now 91.

Another alumnus, Jostein Mykletun, CLA '72, '79, is now deputy director general of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mykletun has been at the forefront of international relations with Norway and, in December 2005, forged a bilateral science and technology agreement between the United States and Norway. During the alumni event, Mykletun received the University's 2006 Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals.

Other highlights of the visit:

Medical School dean Deborah Powell and President Bruininks signing an agreement.
Medical School dean Deborah Powell, right, signed an agreement renewing and strengthening ties at the University of Oslo. Photo by Sharon Olson.

IT associate dean Peter Hudleston, President Bruininks, and Bergen professor Olav Elholm
At the University of Bergen (UiB), professor Olav Elholm, right, talked with Institute of Technology associate dean Peter Hudleston, left, and President Bruininks. Photo courtesy of UiB.

Powell looks forward to the Medical School's reciprocal visits of faculty members and students with the University of Bergen and researchers with the University Oslo. Research collaboration will evolve particularly in neuroscience, she says, and exchanges will strengthen existing programs.

University of Bergen official Kjersti Flottum and President Bruininks sign an agreement.
UiB vice president for international relations Kjersti Flottum, left, and President Bruininks signed a cooperative agreement. Photo courtesy of UiB.

Bruininks says he was glad to share some of the innovations that the University of Minnesota is putting into place to improve the position and responsibility of the U and its impact on the public and on humankind's quality of life.

"It was one of the best such trips I've taken in two decades," Bruininks told the Board of Regents June 9. "It's a very important responsibility of the University to connect with leading universities in the world. We have enormous opportunities for collaboration with Norway. The work will be exciting."

This was Bruininks' third international trip--and first to Norway--as president. He formerly served as dean of the College of Education and Human Development and a member of the faculty.


Gayla Marty contributed to this article.