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Michigan State University

MSU & UNN: Celebrating 60 Years of Partnership

MSU & UNN: Celebrating 60 Years of Partnership

MSU & UNN: Celebrating 60 Years of Partnership

In the 1960s, a groundbreaking relationship between Michigan State University and Nigeria shaped MSU’s approach to international engagement.

2020 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)—the first indigenous Nigerian university and Africa’s first land-grant university. MSU’s role in the ambitious project began when Nnamdi Azikiwe—then governor and later, the first president of Nigeria—invited MSU President John Hannah and MSU faculty to come to Nigeria to help establish a new university inspired by the land-grant model.

From 1960-1967, nearly 150 MSU faculty and staff collaborated with Nigerian partners to build and operate UNN with a full curriculum in arts and letters, sciences, engineering and agriculture. While there were significant challenges along the way, in the end the project has been a success. Today UNN is ranked among Africa’s top universities. 

The lasting impact of the partnership is also evident across MSU. The experience and expertise that MSU faculty gained in Nigeria became the foundation for MSU’s world-renowned African Studies Center. Currently, MSU has more than 200 faculty engaged in research, teaching and partnership across the African continent. MSU regularly teaches more African languages, produces more Ph.D.s on Africa, and offers more study abroad programs in Africa than any other U.S. university. 

The UNN project was the first major international initiative for MSU, beginning a legacy of intentional global engagement that has helped establish MSU as one of the world’s top 100 universities. Perhaps most importantly, the partnership established how MSU works internationally, with a commitment to ethically and equitably collaborate with local partners to innovate and solve problems. 

The partnership between MSU and UNN is still strong after six decades. The collaborations are focused on making real-world community impact, thereby fulfilling both institutions’ land-grant missions to find practical solutions to shared global challenges.

Learn more about MSU’s work in Africa at: africa.msu.edu


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