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Partnership with Ukrainian Catholic University recognized with Heiskell Award

In recognition for its support of Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), the University of Notre Dame has been awarded the 2023 Institute of International Education (IIE) Heiskell Award for Strategic Partnerships.

In recognition for its support of Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), the University of Notre Dame has been awarded the 2023 Institute of International Education (IIE) Heiskell Award for Strategic Partnerships.

The Heiskell Award is presented annually to a college or university, recognizing innovative partnerships that foster international education and demonstrate strong, sustainable links among higher education institutions, within an institution/organization or among public/private partnerships with government, local community and nongovernmental organizations. IIE created these awards in 2001 to promote and honor the most outstanding initiatives being conducted in international higher education by IIE Network member universities and colleges.

Notre Dame has been deeply engaged with UCU for more than 20 years. However, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the University has demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine in a number of significant ways.

At the start of the war, University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., issued an unambiguous statement, which read in part, “We at Notre Dame stand in solidarity with all peace-loving people worldwide in demanding an end to this invasion of a sovereign nation. This unprovoked war is an international abomination and must stop now.”

Notre Dame initiated regular prayer services and liturgies for peace, and created a website dedicated to educating the University community about the war. Building upon years of scholarly exchange, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, along with other academic units across campus, organized panel presentations and conversations between Notre Dame and UCU faculty, administrators and students. 

Notre Dame also created a comprehensive and integrated plan to support UCU as it seeks to rebuild itself and help rebuild Ukraine. 

“Our integrated plan with UCU was created in response to a crisis,” said Michael Pippenger, Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for internationalization. “It was developed through a process of listening to our colleagues’ needs at a traumatic moment in time. Through that listening over a couple of months, we were able to imagine collectively how best to assist in the survival of their university and to support multilevel collaboration and the sharing of respective institutional expertise to create new ties that will help foster resiliency and deeper collaborations now and when the war is over.

“We are humbled to serve our colleagues at UCU who face the destruction and terror of war on a daily basis, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with them.”

The leadership of both universities brought together a high-level task force to respond to UCU’s needs and concerns regarding academic programming, morale and student and faculty retention during a war. The task force developed a comprehensive strategic partnership with five primary goals: 

  • Provide a cohort of UCU undergraduate students and graduate students with the opportunity to study at Notre Dame for a semester. To date, 25 undergraduate students and three graduate students have participated. 
  • Offer UCU postdoctoral scholars the opportunity to apply for a research and/or teaching position at one of Notre Dame’s Global Gateways in Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, London and Rome 
  • Award faculty collaboration grants — 21 have been presented to date
  • Host visiting scholars from UCU — one arrived on March 1 and one will be on campus in August
  • Offer opportunities for collaboration between administrators from each institution — 12 UCU administrators have visited the Notre Dame campus in the past seven months. During those visits, they held meetings with nearly 100 Notre Dame faculty, staff and administrators. 

In addition, the two universities are also working together to better understand the needs of the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in the United States. 

In a boldly visual gesture, the University has lit the iconic “Word of Life” mural on the Hesburgh Library in Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow each weekend for more than a year.


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