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Kent State Signs Partnership Agreement with Siauliai University

Posted June 20, 2011

Vidas Lauruska, rector of Siauliai University, and Kent State President Lester A. Lefton forge a new partnership.

Kent State University forged a new partnership with Siauliai University of Lithuania that focuses on student and faculty exchange opportunities and potential joint research projects. On Thursday, June 9, Dr. Vidas Lauruska, rector of Siauliai University, and Kent State President Lester A. Lefton signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities.

“This agreement marks the beginning of an important new relationship between our two institutions and an expansion of Kent State’s international presence,” Lefton says. “Our partnership with Siauliai University promises expanded opportunities for our students and faculty, as well as exciting new research possibilities in biomedical engineering, energy and clean technology, public health and gender studies.”

Lauruska, his wife and Dr. Stasys Tumenas of Siauliai University’s Department of Lithuanian Linguistics and Communication visited the Kent campus on June 8 and 9. The signing of the new pact and a ceremonial gift exchange took place on June 9 in the Read Special Collections Classroom, located in the University Library.

“It is a great honor for Siauliai to establish a partnership with Kent State University,” Lauruska says. “The cooperation with this top-level organization will provide the possibility for both universities to share experiences in studies, research and cultural issues. I am thoroughly convinced that this will continue with visible results: exchanges of students, academics and personnel, cooperation and development of programs and cultural exchanges.”

Representatives from both universities began working on the partnership last year. “This new agreement represents a significant step forward in our relationship with this respected institution,” says Timothy Moerland, dean of Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences. I look forward to working with Dr. Lauruska and his distinguished faculty.”

Kent State has a special connection with the Lithuanian community, as the university library houses one of the largest collections of Lithuanian literature, archival materials and other items related to the Lithuanian Diaspora in the country. “In fact, the Lithuanian collection at Kent State is larger than the Lithuanian archives held at the Western Reserve Historical Society,” says Mary Anne Saunders, executive director of Kent State’s Office of International Affairs.

Tumenas visited Kent State last fall to review the rare books in the university’s collection. His writings about the holdings will be published soon and will be shared with the Western Reserve Historical Society and others.

“There is a large and very active Lithuanian community in Northeast Ohio that has been very supportive of Kent State,” Saunders says. “There is currently an endowment of $166,000 - the Kent State Lithuanian Fellowship Scholarship Fund - that supports student and faculty scholarship.”

Last year, the Lithuanian program at Kent State and Dr. Viktoras Stankus, vice president of Lithuanian Community Inc., Cleveland Chapter, celebrated the 30 year anniversary of the Baltic-Kent Connection and highlighted student and faculty accomplishments over this time.

“On behalf of the Lithuanian government, I applaud this historic event: the partnership of universities from two different continents,” says Ingrida Bublys, honorary general consul of the Republic of Lithuania in Ohio. “It will truly be a gift to students as well as professors as an insight into the differences and commonalities between these two institutions as the partnership grows and flourishes.”

Siauliai University, located in the fourth largest city in Lithuania, was established in 1997 as a result of uniting the Siauliai Polytech of Kaunas University of Technology and the Siauliai Pedagogical Institute. Approximately 12,000 students attend the university, which offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Siauliai University has more than 130 international and domestic partnerships with other universities. Lauruska has served as rector, the equivalent of president, of the institution since it was founded.

For additional information regarding Siauliai University, visit For more information on Kent State’s Office of International Affairs, visit or call 330-672-7980.