UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, convenes the world conference every 10 years to develop the international higher education agenda and set global priorities for the next decade. This will be the first world conference in which the United States is officially participating since America withdrew from UNESCO in 1984 – the USA rejoined UNESCO in 2003. “The conference is critically important,” Milliken said, “because it comes at a time when appreciation of U.S. higher education, especially the role of the public research university in innovation and economic development, is growing – not only in the developing world but in the advanced economies and among our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.”
Milliken is one of only a few educational leaders from the U.S. invited as national experts by UNESCO. He was chosen to represent U.S. higher education’s innovation agenda; other U.S. experts reflect the nation’s success in providing access to and quality in higher education, and in the internationalization of higher education. In addition to the invited experts, a number of Americans will represent associations and institutions affiliated with UNESCO in the United States including national student and teacher organizations. Others who will participate have served on UNESCO working groups created at the last world meeting convened in 1998.
Strong and accurate representation of the U.S. higher education system is important at the UNESCO meeting to safeguard the U.S. system and preserve the free flow of talent, information and research worldwide, Milliken said. “We need to be able to collaborate in research and development fields even more closely to meet global challenges,” he said. “At the conference, the U.S. team will represent the first-rate results our system of publicly and privately supported institutions delivers for society.”
Milliken has been active in national higher education and innovation organizations, serving as a co-chair of the Council on Competitiveness Regional Innovation Initiative Leadership Steering Committee, on the board of directors of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and as a member of the Business Higher Education Forum. He also serves on the boards of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce, and is vice chairman of BioNebraska.