Two students at the University of Iceland, Sigurlaug Birna Guðmudsdóttir, BS student of geology, and Breki Ingibjargarson, BS student of computer science, recently received a substantial grant from the Val Bjornson Icelandic Exchange Scholarship Fund to take the spring semester at the University of Minnesota in the United States.
A cooperative agreement between the University of Iceland and the University of Minnesota has been in place for almost forty years enabling student and staff exchanges, as well as dynamic research collaboration.
The fund was established in the memory of Valdimar "Val" Bjornsson, a former Minister of Finance in Minnesota (1906-1987). He was of Icelandic descent, a true patriot, and extremely fond of the Icelandic students in Minnesota. The Icelandic community in Minnesota, led by Örn Arnar, consul, along with Icelandic association in Minnesota, the Hekla club, active since 1925, have always been avid sponsors of the fund. A former chair of the Hekla club, Erin Mae Johnson, is currently studying Icelandic as a second language at the University of Iceland.
There is a dynamic alumni association for the University of Minnesota operated here in Iceland. Jónína Ólafsdóttir Kárdal, career and guidance counsellor at the University of Iceland, is head of the association, but she is a former grantee of the Val Björnsson Foundation.