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Leuven/Louvain universities embark on first joint visit in 50 years
For the first time since they split apart in the 1960s, the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) are embarking on a joint visit. The historical co-operation will see delegations from both institutions visiting the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US this week.
KU Leuven reports that the universities will co-operate on the visit in order to strengthen both their ties with MIT, one of the most renowned institutions in the world in the area of research. “Contacts and exchanges with other research institutions are essential to high-quality and innovative education and research,” said Peter Lievens, KU Leuven’s vice rector for international policy.
KU Leuven is one of the oldest universities in Europe, founded in 1425. In the centuries that followed, the university attracted illustrious minds, including the 16th-century humanist Erasmus, mathematician Gemma Frisius and anatomist Andreas Vesalius. It also became a respected training hub for Roman Catholic intellectuals from Protestant countries.
Like in other Flemish universities, classes in Leuven were taught mostly in French (and sometimes Latin) until well into the 20th century. However, Dutch gradually gained ground, and the relationship between the two linguistic communities grew tense.
In the 1960s, a serious feud led to a split into two separate institutions: the French-speaking UCL was created in Wallonia, while the Dutch-speaking KU Leuven remained in Flanders. The visit to MIT is the first time since the split – exactly 50 years ago – that the universities are co-operating on an official visit abroad.
Photo, from left: UCL rector Vincent Blondel and KU Leuven rector Luc Sels will be among this week’s delegation to MIT ©Courtesy KU Leuven