Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathie Stromile Golden received an honorary doctorate during a trip to solidify the relationship between MVSU and Caucasus International University (CIU) in Tblisi, Georgia. Dr. Golden had just finished delivering a lecture on the roll of small-state and non-state actors in the contemporary world order when administrators from CIU surprised her with the honor.
“I was taken completely by surprise,” she said.
In addition to giving two the lectures, visiting classes at one of the state universities, attending CIU student presentations on their community outreach via non-governmental organizations, and meeting with local government officials, Golden finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MVSU and CIU. The MOU serves as a foundation for the relationship between the two universities, enumerating the ways in which they will interact and mutually benefit. The agreement supports faculty and student exchanges between universities, especially within the scope of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for the latter. It also supports scientific research and joint publication of findings resulting from projects where faculty members from both universities were involved.
President William Bynum and Dr. Kakhaber Kordzaia, rector of CIU signed the MOU, along with two additional agreements that go into greater detail about student and faculty exchanges between the universities.
CIU is particularly interested in Valley’s criminal justice department. This spring, Shota Shalashvili, a student from Georgia, began taking courses in the master’s in criminal Justice program. Shalashvili has experience as a translator and analyst for the American military in Afghanistan.
The relationship between MVSU and CIU results from a MVSU alum from Georgia, Levan Lortkipanidze’s promotion of MVSU. Lortkipanidze, a classically trained musician, was interested in blues and jazz, so he decided to come to the Mississippi Delta to study music. Since returning to Georgia he, like Shalashvili, has done translation and strategic analysis for the U.S. military. Levan was sharing with a group of people about his experiences at MVSU, which gained the interest of a vice rector and other upper-level administrators at CIU. Following Lortkipanidze’s praise, CIU reached out to “The Valley” about forming a partnership between the two universities.
Dr. Golden’s trip wasn’t all business, however. During her seven-days in the Georgia, she was able to tour some of Tblisi, the capital city of Georgia and home of CIU. While in Tblisi she visited The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tblisi, which is the world’s largest Orthodox church, as well as an underwater sulfur bath and other relics in the Old Tblisi, the city’s historical quarter.
Golden hopes that Valley students will take advantage of the student exchange and study abroad at CIU. Under the current agreement, up to two students from either university can study at the other exempt from tuition and fees. The opportunity provides students with the chance to improve their foreign language skills, immerse themselves in a new culture, and challenge themselves in an unfamiliar academic environment.