The director of Clayton State University’s Office of International Programs, John E. Parkerson, Jr., recently returned Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, after delivering the commencement address at the Georgian American University (GAU).
In December 2009, Clayton State and GAU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that promised a cooperative relationship between the two universities. The MOU provides the framework for Clayton State and GAU to engage in international exchanges of faculty to teach at each other’s institutions, attendance of students between the institutions, collaboration in special programs such as research activities or conferences, and exchanges of academic materials.
The title of Parkerson’s address was: “Georgia to Georgia: How Education Advances U.S.-Republic of Georgia Ties.”
”I focused on the importance of education in promoting closer U.S.-Georgia business/economic, political/national defense, and social ties; the significance of the GAU-Clayton State partnership with regard to the foregoing; how today’s university graduates must know something about the peoples, traditions, cultures, ways of doing business, beyond their own country’s borders; developments in the European Union and the U.S. as they affect Georgia,” Parkerson notes. “(I added) a few concluding comments about the greater regional eastward integration of the EU, noting that Hungary held the presidency of the Council of the EU through June 2011, and that Poland now holds the presidency for the next six months, making 2011 the year of Central Europe.”
GAU opened to the public in 2005, and is a small, modern private institution of approximately 800 students that offers much of its curriculum in the English language. Its expanding Business and Law programs provide progressive educational opportunities for Georgian students, with the Business programs in particular representing potential areas for collaboration between GAU and Clayton State. GAU graduated its first class of students in 2009 with undergraduate degrees in Business and in Law, and graduate degrees in Law.
Parkerson also reports that, between Law and Business schools, there were about 250 graduates at Commencement. GAU President Michael Cowgill was the official host and the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, John R. Bass, provided some opening comments and introductions. Ken Cutshaw, vice president and general counsel of Church’s Chicken, who is a founding shareholder and vice president of External Relations at GAU, introduced Parkerson.
The Honorary Consul of Hungary for the southeastern United States, Parkerson also fulfilled a diplomatic role after his trip, reporting to the Honorary Consul of Georgia, John E. Hall, on the results of his trip, which also included a reunion with Mariam Chubinidze, GAU’s first outbound exchange student, who spent the fall 2010 semester studying business at Clayton State, and visiting other legal and academic colleagues in Tbilisi.