Leaders in Philanthropy and Higher Education Address Future of the Global Movement of Engaged Universities

December 4, 2009

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NEW YORK -  A meeting of 21 leaders in international philanthropy and higher education held at the Carnegie Corporation reflects a significant emerging trend that has been under-reported: Increased efforts by major foundations to accelerate social and economic development by funding civic engagement initiatives at global colleges and universities. 

The meeting to consider the future of the rapidly growing global movement of higher education in civic engagement and social responsibility was co-hosted by Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Tufts University, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, and Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation.

This cross-sector exchange brought together leaders of major private and corporate foundations whose combined annual grantmaking exceeds $520 million and heads of universities active in the Talloires Network, a global alliance of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.  This expanding alliance currently numbers 150 institutions in 52 countries, with a combined student population of over 4 million.

"The fact that this diverse group of leaders came together on this important issue signals that the global movement of engaged universities is poised to enter a wholly new stage," said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. "The potential impact is enormous and the heightened momentum for mobilizing the expertise and power of higher education for social and economic innovation is a very positive development."

The session was chaired by Bacow, who also serves as chair of the Steering Committee of the Talloires Network.

The heads and founding heads of universities from four continents participated: Aga Khan University (Pakistan), Al-Quds University (East Jerusalem), University of Brighton (UK), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa), Georgetown University (USA), Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), and Tufts University (USA).  The social responsibility programs of these institutions demonstrate the potential of this burgeoning international movement to expand access to education, alleviate poverty, address environmental issues, and advance social and economic development.

Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian observed, "This meeting was in effect a higher education-philanthropy 'summit' to envision the future of a movement with the potential to forge a new compact between higher education and society."

The meeting was attended by the presidents and senior administrators of Banco Santander, Carnegie Corporation, IBM International Foundation, KPMG, Loews Corporation, The MasterCard Foundation, Pearson Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Walmart Foundation.

Government and international agencies represented were U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Education, and U.N. Development Program.

Each of the participating organizations are deeply involved in supporting international higher education and public service initiatives. Their initiatives include Banco Santander’s sponsorship of Universia, a network of over 1000 universities; Walmart’s major anti-hunger campaign; IBM’s program that annually sends 500 staff members on year-long assignments to address problems in developing countries; The MasterCard Foundation’s emerging focus on youth learning and microfinance in Africa; USAID’s sponsorship of over 400 U.S. and developing country higher education partnerships in 75 countries; and the Pearson Foundation and KPMG’s support for international student leader exchanges and global literacy initiatives. 

Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation, encouraged the group to reach beyond traditional approaches to volunteering. She said, “We need to get the millions of students around the world who are doing volunteer service to become advocates for more effective public policies -- to tackle the root causes of the problems that motivate them to volunteer.” McKenna added, “Working together, higher education and philanthropy have a golden opportunity to achieve this goal.”

With the combined enrollment in institutions of higher education worldwide estimated to expand to 200 million by 2030, the group agreed that there is great future potential in this movement.   It can achieve three vital goals: to improve community conditions, to educate future leaders for change, and to elevate public support for higher education. Members of the group agreed to continue the discussion, as well as to identify opportunities for joint action and ways to support one another’s work. 

Participants in the November 2 meeting were:

Lawrence S. Bacow, President, Tufts University
Gary Bittner, Higher Education Liaison Office, U.S. Agency for International Development
Julian Crampton, Vice-Chancellor, University of Brighton
John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation
Lord Michael Hastings CBE, Global Head of Citizenship & Diversity, KPMG International
Robert Hollister, Dean, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service,   Tufts University\
Kathy Hurley, Senior Vice President, Pearson Foundation
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Founding President, Aga Khan University
Stanley Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporation Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation, IBM
Margaret McKenna, President, Walmart Foundation
Salvador Medina, Director of Innovation and Strategic Projects, Banco Santander
Paloma Morazo, Administrative Coordinator, Spain-UNDP Trust Fund
Sari Nusseibeh, President, Al-Quds University
Rafael Rangel, President, Tecnológico de Monterrey
Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation
Reeta Roy, President and CEO, The MasterCard Foundation
Robert Shireman, Deputy Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education
Susan Stroud, Founder and Executive Director, Innovations in Civic Participation
Vuyisa Tanga, Vice-Chancellor, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels

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The Talloires Network is a global alliance of 150 universities and colleges in 52 countries working together to strengthen the civic engagement and social responsibility of higher education (www.tufts.edu/talloiresnetwork). Talloires Network secretariat support is provided by Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, Mass., and Innovations in Civic Participation, Washington, DC. Tisch College is a national leader in civic education, whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement. (www.activecitizen.tufts.edu). Innovations in Civic Participation is a leading nonprofit organization supporting the development of innovative high-quality youth civic engagement policies and programs around the world (icicp.org).