University forges relationships in Africa | The Triangle

University forges relationships in Africa

Drexel University signed a memorandum of understanding April 3 with the University of The Gambia. The memorandum, which serves as a foundation for future collaboration, outlines a cooperative relationship between Drexel and UTG to encourage future research and training opportunities in areas of mutual interest.

Shannon Marquez, the associate dean for academic affairs and director of global public health initiatives, said, “This initial partnership was birthed out of our ongoing collaborations in the health sciences, particularly in public health. … Our goal in entering a partnership with the university is to really think about, more formally, the exchange of students and faculty and professional staff in relation to supporting these areas of mutual interests.”

Julie Mostov, the vice provost for global initiatives and a professor of political science, said that, with this new agreement, “any student who wants to go to The Gambia will be able to — either for engineering or public health. … Even a student in anthropology could go there.”


Marquez, who has lots of experience doing work in The Gambia, helped broker the agreement with UTG. Mostov explained that “we came to The Gambia in two different ways.”

The first way, Mostov said, “We had a group of students called the weServe group, and they were in biomed and they were excited about doing programs where they could take their skills in biomedical engineering and apply them into setting. [The people] often had equipment which was given to them as part of an aid package, but the equipment was broken, and they didn’t have a brochure and it was just sitting there, like incubators or other kinds of really critical health care equipment, and biomed students are taught to fix some of this stuff. So they went to The Gambia through one of our partners, Power-up Gambia, … and they began to do a project there.”

Mostov said the second way was that “when Marquez came, we deepened that relationship to include the University of The Gambia. So now Dr. Marquez is really going to be the key person for bringing all of our students together under the umbrella of our agreement.”

Marquez has long-term partnerships in The Gambia from when she was at the University of Iowa and started working at UTG. As she continued to work there, she created important programs.

“She’s well loved and recognized as an expert in water and public health and so forth in Gambia,” Mostov said.

At the signing ceremony, President John A. Fry and UTG Vice Chancellor Muhammadou M.O. Kah signed the document. The event was also attended by The Gambia’s ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Alieu Ngum, and the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Ambassador Tommy Ayo Sidibeh.

According to Mostov, Drexel is attempting to open new relationships with universities around the world. Mostov said, “We’ve set certain countries as our target countries; those countries are Israel, Turkey, China and Brazil, … so we hope to build on those research partnerships we have, hope to build them into more faculty and research and student opportunities. Student opportunities for exchange, student opportunities for co-op, and then student opportunities to do faculty-led programs.”

Before coming to Drexel, UTG also signed a memorandum of understanding with St. Mary’s College of Maryland.