Two high-level Lithuanian administrators with historical ties to the University of Illinois visited ACES on June 11-12, 2013, with a goal of reestablishing connections. The delegation, hosted by the Office of International Programs, included Lithuanian Vice Minister of Agriculture Mindaugas Kuklierius, who first visited the University of Illinois as a student in 1996 as part of an exchange program, and Dr. Antanas Mazilauskas, Rector of Aleksandras Stulginskis University (ASU), previously known as the Lithuanian Academy of Agriculture which was a partner in the aforementioned student exchange program with the U of I.
Dr. John Santas, assistant dean emeritus, enjoyed reconnecting with the visitors and provided a historical perspective: “This recent visit dates back to a 1995-96 student exchange that was funded by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) as part of an effort to thaw relations after the cold war and breakup of the Soviet Union. Bush and Gorbachev agreed to exchange 1,000 students each way. During this time, UIUC, along with our joint partner Southern Illinois University, sent nine students to Lithuania and 10 to St. Petersburg State Agrarian University in Pushkin, Russia. During the time of the exchange program, Dr. Maziliauskas, who is now rector of ASU, was head of the Academy’s international office. He was a great help to our students. Additionally, we hosted several Russian and Lithuanian exchange students, including Dr. Kuklierius.”
The visitors enjoyed meetings with Meredith Blumthal, director of ACES education abroad programs; Dr. K.C. Ting, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; and Mr. Jeffrey Levengood of the State Natural History Survey.
Noting that their visit rekindled their very strong emotional ties to Illinois, the delegation left with specific plans to reestablish linkages and develop new collaborations between the two universities. The two visitors were specifically interested in establishing new collaborative opportunities in agricultural machinery and biomass engineering transport engineering.
Aleksandras Stulginskis University is a public university deeply rooted in agricultural science and studies. It was founded in 1920 but renamed in 2011 to honor the first President of the Republic of Lithuania.
Image: (left to right) Dr. Antanas Mazilauskas, Dr. John Santas, and Dr. K.C. Ting.