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one man with an African drum laughing and standing next to a man in Nigerian garb

Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Justin Schwartz, left, and His Royal Highness Saka Matemilola. Credit: Nathaniel Ulrich / Penn State. Creative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A delegation led by the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and His Royal Majesty Saka Adelola Matemilola, the Paramount Ruler of Owu Kingdom in Nigeria, visited Penn State May 23-34 to explore opportunities for long term and impactful partnership between Penn State and a consortium of Higher Ed institutions in Nigeria.

The delegation also visited the University of Maryland, Rutgers University and Princeton University before arriving at Penn State, with the goal of establishing multilateral partnership structures. The guests visited to learn more about potential research collaborations in the following thematic areas: energy, climate change, information/data science, humanities, arts and culture, health (infectious diseases), and digital archiving.

Penn State has a long history with Nigerian institutions. In 2006, for example, Penn State collaborated with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education on a proposal to the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris to endow a chair in Earth sciences and georesources engineering management at the University of Ibadan to “promote an integrated system of research, and to identify ways of utilizing Africa’s natural resources through close collaboration of scientists, engineers, economists, and social scientists.”

The delegation also included Kayode Adebowale, the vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, and professors from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, Nigeria. The University of Cambridge-educated monarch was an academic before his coronation and is now lending the weight of his office to international engagements efforts by institutions in his domain.

“We were thrilled to host such prestigious guests from Nigeria at Penn State,” said Sylvester Osagie, director of sub-Saharan Africa engagement. “We are even more thrilled at the productivity and excitement around the discussions, and we look forward to working with Nigerian institutions on a deeper level.”

A reception hosted by Penn State Global for former President Obasanjo, the monarch, and other visitors at the HUB was attended by deans and the leadership of Penn State World Campus and the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, as well as faculty, students, and members of the State College community. President Obasanjo thanked Penn State and the audience for their warm reception and gave a brief summary of the purpose of the delegation’s visit.

The former president took questions from the audience before departing for another engagement in Ghana.

The delegation met with Provost Justin Schwartz the following day and held meetings with different Penn State units, including the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and University Libraries. They also had discussions with the deans and faculty in the Colleges of Arts and Architecture; Earth and Mineral Sciences; Eberly College of Science; Information Sciences and Technology; and the Liberal Arts.

The meetings ended with visits to the Materials Research Institute and Plant Village and a tour of their research facilities. 

"It was a pleasure to host the Nigerian delegation and we engaged in productive discussions regarding collaboration," said Sabine Klahr, associate vice provost for Penn State Global. "The goals for the consortium of institutions in Nigeria align well with our goals for strategic partnerships in Africa. We hope to hold follow-up discussions very soon."

For more information or to get involved, contact Sylvester Osagie at soo1@psu.edu.