Shenandoah University Formalizes Partnership With Netherlands-Based Esports Company

Shenandoah University’s esports program signed a memorandum of understanding with the Amsterdam-based esports and tech company H20 on Friday, Sept. 16, outlining the ways in which both institutions will work together to provide students a far-reaching educational experience in the fast-growing field.

Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.; SU Provost Cameron McCoy, Ph.D.; Dean of the School of Business Astrid Sheil, Ph.D.; Shenandoah’s Director of Esports Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D.; and H20 CEO Martijn van der Craats participated in the MOU signing.

Start esports partnership in October 2021

The MOU formalized the cooperation between Shenandoah and H20 that began when six SU students and two faculty members traveled to the Netherlands in October 2021, to meet with esports professionals and help with an event at the H20 Esports Campus, one of the world’s top esports facilities.

Since that trip, Dr. Gawrysiak has worked with Shenandoah administrators and H20’s leadership to create the first international partnership of its kind, which will provide international experiences and opportunities for learners at both institutions.

“This partnership will continue to show how SU esports goes beyond gaming to offer experiences in and through esports that nobody else can offer, as we prepare students to be successful upon graduation,” Gawrysiak said. “Traveling and working with people from H20 will help our learners understand international esports business and global competencies that go beyond esports and gaming.”

This partnership will include faculty and student exchange opportunities and collaboration on esports research and projects.

Esports Education

“For H20, education is an important pillar in our mission to get esports integrated into society,” said Van der Craats. “Working together with the academic esports program at SU to reach these goals has been a great experience so far, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds. Signing the MOU is a big step forward to do great things.”

In addition to hosting a large gaming venue, Rabo Esports Stadium, the H20 Esports Campus also includes Hogeschool van Amsterdam’s minor dedicated to esports, virtual and augmented reality, and other creative technology. Shenandoah’s intent is to work with H20 on events, production, esports performance and general tech business.

Dr. Fitzsimmons expressed admiration for Gawrysiak’s strength and vision in leading Shenandoah University’s esports program, and praised H20 and the new partnership, which she said will help prepare SU students for careers in the rapidly growing field.

From MOU to partnership

“It’s so easy to sign an MOU. It’s harder to get to the agreement that leads to the signing. But the hardest part is yet to come. It’s our learners making sure to hold all of us accountable to ensure that this is more than a piece of paper,” Fitzsimmons said. “All of this work wasn’t done for us to have a nice document signed. All of this work was done because this world in which we exist now relies so much on collaboration and on partnerships. We are very much looking forward to this partnership. H20 is trustworthy, ethical and visionary, and that’s exactly the kind of partner we want because that’s exactly the kind of institution and esports program that Shenandoah has.”