Exploring Beyond Evergreen: Studying the Sciences at Newcastle

By Amy R. Wolfson, Ph.D.  |  Photos by Jen Lowry, Ph.D.

Yesterday was another exciting and fulfilling day at Newcastle University. Again, Inez Janna Summers, acting Loyola Center Manager, escorted us to all of our meetings; she has been a marvelous host—making us feel like a part of the Newcastle University family.

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Our first appointment was with Eric Cross, dean of cultural affairs and faculty member in music. Professor Cross talked about how nearly 20 years ago, he (at the time dean of arts and sciences) worked closely with Loyola colleagues (Joseph Healy, director of international programs and theology faculty, and John Jordan, dean of advising and economics faculty) in founding the partnership that now brings nearly 100 Loyola students to Newcastle each year. In fact, the initial contact with Newcastle was through Brian Murray, professor of writing at Loyola.

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Following this conversation, we walked over to the Bede House, the Catholic Chaplaincy, where we met with the chaplains, Rev. Dominic White and Mia Fox. They talked about some of the volunteer opportunities through their office and ways in which they welcome and reach out to international students, including Loyola students. They shared how they hope to get to know even more Loyola students in the coming years.

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Before beginning our tours of various science labs, we were treated to lunch by Inez and Dimitra Boutsioukis, international strategic projects manager, at Quilliams Teahouse, apparently a popular hangout for Loyola students where one can enjoy English tea, coffee, pastries, and a Mediterranean-style lunch.

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Over the course of what became a rainy afternoon, we toured the Biomedical Sciences labs and the recently renovated Physics facilities.

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Jen Lowry and I were particularly excited about the learning spaces and labs in these buildings for our students—and even ourselves!

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The engaging learning spaces gave us ideas for Loyola, too. Professor Debbie Bevitt, head of biomedical sciences, discussed options for our students in biology as well as options for students considering medical school.

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Laura Thomson, deputy director of faculty operations, faculty of science, agriculture, and engineering (SAgE), and Noel Healy, senior lecturer in physics, took us through the physics complex and talked with us about possible future summer opportunities for our students.

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We also met with Students’ Union staff who reminded us that Newcastle offers over 180 student societies, 65 sport clubs, and numerous volunteer opportunities.

As the day came to a close, Andrea Henderson, university engagement manager, and Thomas Snell, international relations corporate affairs directorate, spoke to our group about additional ways that Newcastle and Loyola might collaborate. In particular, we learned more about the Freedom City 2017 plans and collaborative opportunities.

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Our day ended with a rainy walk back to our accommodations at Carlton Lodge. Admittedly, Jen and I got a little lost. So we stopped a biker who turned out to be a lovely British man, Dave, who in the pouring rain tried to help us with directions. It turned out that we were just around the corner from the lodge after all.

That evening, Andre, Jen, and I met up with Eric Cross and his partner, Lindsay, for a relaxing dinner at Café 21, a few blocks from the Tyne River. Eric and Andre have been friends and colleagues for many years now, and we enjoyed getting to know him a bit more over dinner.

We left for Brussels, Belgium, very early this morning. Next stop: a visit with our colleagues in the Leuven Program, including the Loyola International Nachbar Huis residents, Elizabeth Kennedy, associate professor of law and social responsibility and resident director in Leuven, and Christel Snels, associate director.

I am looking forward to learning more about Loyola at Leuven and new collaborative ideas—and, of course, some Belgium chocolate and beer!

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