Students and faculty at Binghamton University will soon have the opportunity to travel to Kenyatta University (KU), located in Nairobi, Kenya, as a result of a new research and educational partnership between the two schools.

The new partnership was discussed in BU President Harvey Stenger’s summer 2019 quarterly report, where he highlighted a visit from three KU officials to BU’s campus.

“Kenyatta University is widely respected by its peer institutions, ranking among the top colleges and universities on the African continent,” Stenger wrote in the report. “Like [BU], it is a young university, founded less than 40 years ago. But in that short time, it has earned a reputation for academic excellence in the arts, sciences, engineering, humanities, nursing, medicine and social sciences — programs that correspond to [BU’s] own stellar offerings.”

Aondover Tarhule, vice provost and dean of BU’s Graduate School, wrote in an email that the process of choosing a school for the partnership was extremely complex. During the selection process, BU aimed to strengthen its global brand and create collaborative research opportunities for students and faculty.

“In reviewing where and with whom to develop a new partnership, the University uses a matrix of variables, including prior or existing relationships, compatibility or complementary programs and, of course, mutual interest and potential benefits, among several others,” Tarhule wrote. “Having concluded such analysis led by the graduate school, as well as visits to Kenyatta University by myself and Hiroki Sayama, professor of systems science and industrial engineering, it was clear that Kenyatta University is an excellent partner for Binghamton University.”

Tarhule’s visit to Kenya in fall 2018 with Sayama ultimately resulted in the partnership. Sayama wrote in an email that the partnership with KU will bring value to BU’s research initiatives.

“Kenyatta University is one of the highest-ranked universities in Kenya (and East Africa, more broadly),” Sayama wrote. “They have a wonderful campus and very strong students, with many advanced research projects going on. They are also very strong in non-STEM domains, including the humanities, social studies and performing arts. I believe there will be many areas of mutually beneficial collaboration between Kenyatta and [BU].”

Sayama wrote that he also hopes to be involved in improving the socioeconomic development of Kenya through the partnership.

“As a graduate program director, I hope we can recruit strong students from there,” Sayama wrote. “But more importantly from a broader perspective, Kenya and East Africa are eagerly looking for ways to develop [a] strong workforce to improve their social, economical and industrial systems in their region. It would be great if [BU] could play an important role in their socioeconomic development through collaborative development of educational programs and research projects.”

Tarhule said the vice chancellor of KU also stressed the importance of socioeconomic development in the region while visiting BU.

“Binghamton University’s philosophy is that partnerships should be mutually beneficial,” Tarhule wrote. “In the case of this partnership, Kenyatta University is interested in developing capacity in systems science, an area in which Binghamton University has considerable expertise. On its part, Binghamton University seeks to increase its visibility in Africa as part of an overall diversification strategy to complement our current recruitment markets. Kenyatta University is an excellent partner that can help [BU] establish its presence, first in East Africa and perhaps, Africa at large.”