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Fredonia to expand faculty, professional development initiatives with Albanian university
Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fredonia to expand faculty, professional development initiatives with Albanian university

President Virginia Horvath and Skender Topi, rector of Aleksander Xhuvani University, prepare to sign a memorandum of agreement to formalize faculty exchanges and professional development programs between the two institutions. Joining them are administrators from both universities.

Faculty exchanges and professional development programs between Fredonia and Aleksander Xhuvani University, Albania, are expected to increase, thanks to a new memorandum of agreement reached between the two institutions.

A signing ceremony on May 3 in front of Fredonia’s international flag display in Reed Library signaled the beginning of an official relationship between the two universities that have enjoyed a long-standing, but unofficial faculty mobility affiliation.

Members of the Aleksander Xhuvani University delegation attending the event, which culminated a campus visit focused on discussing potential collaborative activities, included: Rector Skender Topi, Laureta Vavla, head of the English Language Department; administrator Elian Hoxha, Dean of Faculty of Nursing Shkëlqim Hidri and Vice Dean Zamira Çabiri.

An Albanian flag was also mounted alongside flags of nearly 80 countries that have a relationship to the campus.

“As a result of this visit, we hope to establish more coordinated faculty mobility programs that will nurture deeper relationships and sustainable programs that will benefit both campuses,” said Naomi Baldwin, director of the Office of International Education.

Fredonia’s connection to the university, located in Elbasan, one of Albania’s largest cities, includes a visit from Vilma Tafani, professor of Linguistics and Methodology, who spent the 2011-2012 academic year on campus as a Fulbright scholar. Drawing from that experience, Dr. Tafani created a new course at her school, Teaching Through Media, and published two books, “Teaching Through Media” and “Albania and Elbasani in the Eyes of the Foreigners.”

Tafani’s second book was based on the descriptions of Albania from people of Albanian descent who had immigrated in the 1900s that she met in Jamestown. She learned about their perspectives of Albania that were brought to them through media.

The academic year that Tafani spent in Fredonia had a big impact on her, and she returned in the summer of 2015. Tafani also plans to visit the campus this summer to “see the changes and to update my experiences about initial teacher education,” which she said has been an obsession throughout her career.

Among those who will host Tafani on her upcoming visit will be Dean of the College of Education Christine Givner, Dr. Kate Mahoney of the Department of Language and Learning, Dr. Ted Schwalbe of the Department of Communication, and and Drs. Iclal Vanwesenbeeck and KimMarie Cole, both of the Department of English.

Copies of Tafani’s newest book, “Teaching Skills and Practices,” co-authored with Dr. Laureta Vavla, are available to borrow at the Office of International Education.

Fredonia English Professor Iclal Vanwesenbeeck participated in a Fulbright program in Elbasan and led programs in both the university campus and local community. Her high impact activities included raising awareness about recycling among children in local elementary schools to helping to decrease the pollution of regional natural resources. She also led a campaign and panel of experts to raise awareness of cervical cancer, one of the top causes of death among Albanian women.

Fredonia faculty members who are planning visits to Aleksander Xhuvani University through Fulbright and other scholarly endeavors include Dr. Schwalbe, Dr. Reneta Barneva of the Department of Applied Professional Studies, and Dr. Jon Titus of the Department of Biology.

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