Uppsala, Minneapolis become sister cities

Kristin Gustafson

A cooperative research park in Sweden, which combines the best resources from city, county, university and private businesses, has caught the attention of Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton — as well as the University.
“Campus Uppsala,” as it is called, is one of many attractions scheduled during a four-day visit from 30 civic, academic and business leaders as the city of Minneapolis selects Uppsala, Sweden, as a sister city.
The list of Minnesota delegates includes six University officials. The Board of Regents and the University’s top administration are represented by the board’s chairwoman, Patricia Spence.
Bob Kvavik, an associate vice president and coordinator of the University’s contingency, said the University has three primary goals for the trip:
ù To set up exchange opportunities for undergraduate students as well as faculty;
ù To view Uppsala University and the agricultural university research facilities and learn about their cooperative research approach with city, county and private business; and
ù To support the city of Minneapolis in its pursuit of this international agenda.
The sister-city relationship is a formalized way to recognize and encourage cultural, educational and economic development exchanges.
Kvavik, who said his fluent Norwegian allows him converse with Swedes, first got involved in the trip when he hosted a half-day University visit for a Swedish group a year ago.
“When they came to the University, they were absolutely fascinated by (University President Mark Yudof’s) initiatives in the biological area,” Kvavik said.
So when the mayor’s office set up this trip, Uppsala requested the University send some representatives.
Uppsala, a city established almost a thousand years ago, has been in the university business since Uppsala University was founded in the late 1400s, Kvavik said. “It’s very hard for Uppsala to think about business without its core business (of a university.)”
For instance, Uppsala University has “Campus Uppsala” — a partnership to develop venture capital corporations and incubate new products in the biological sciences area.
“They are really very far ahead with that and we … have a lot to learn about how we might build a tech corridor between (the Twin Cities) and the St. Paul campus,” Kvavik said.
Before leaving for the trip, Judd Sheridan, who represents the dean of the College of Biological Sciences, said he looked forward to “finding out more about the sciences going on there … so we can think about exchanges with professors, researchers and maybe collaborations.”
Regent Spence, who will travel with the group, offers a different area of expertise. A few years ago, as mayor of Little Falls, Minn., Spence represented her city as it established a sister-city relationship with LeBourget, France.
It was her only trip overseas until the Swedish adventure.
Spence said she was grateful to visit the country of her ancestors.
“It’ll be very emotional for me,” she said.
Spence said her Swedish grandfather died when she was four and she missed hearing stories of the country. However, he wrote a letter before he died that described the poverty and family he left to come to America.
“I think to see his roots and make that connection will be powerful,” Spence said.
Spence said she is also interested in learning how the University can improve exchanges for students, a goal consistent with Yudof’s priority for more international studies.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and federal government and welcomes comments a [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.