FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A delegation led by His Excellency Omar Fassi-Fehri, Secretary of State in Charge of Scientific Research in Morocco, visited the UA campus February 13 to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation pledging educational and cultural exchange between the Kingdom of Morocco and the University of Arkansas. The formal signing was held at 3:30 p.m. in the Heritage Room.

The U of A and the Ministry of Higher Education will agree to promote cultural understanding through ongoing exchanges of faculty researchers and campus leaders, share technological and scientific expertise, strengthen the curriculum of academic programs through exchanging historical, geographical, and cultural information, organize symposia and other cultural programs, form joint research teams, offer graduate assistantships to Moroccan students seeking advanced degrees at the U of A, and facilitate meetings for UA delegations and researchers visiting the Kingdom of Morocco.

"This agreement marks a substantial commitment of our campus resources toward expanding our ties with academic leaders and universities throughout the Kingdom," said Chancellor White. "We are forging a valuable cultural partnership with Morocco, one that will bring immediate benefits to faculty and students as we share resources and expertise in research and teaching."

Accompanying the Minister will be Dr. Abdessattar El Amrani-Jamal, General Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Executive Training and Scientific Research; Dr. Said Belcadi, Director of Scientific Research and Cooperation; and Dr. Mohammed Dahbi, President of the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange. While on campus, the delegation will tour laboratories and facilities and meet with faculty and students.

Randall Woods, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, said the agreement is the result of productive discussions he and faculty in the King Fahd Middle East Studies Program have had with educational leaders in Morocco.

"Doubtless we will strengthen the academic and intellectual reach of our Middle East Studies Program through this agreement," said Woods. "Our campus grows larger as we open our classrooms and laboratories to our colleagues in Morocco."

The Program has existing cooperative agreements with universities in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, as well as with Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco, a private university that offers an Arabic study program for UA students. Every summer, anthropology students from the U of A travel to Jordan to participate in a bioarcheological field school conducted jointly with Yarmouk University.

"A strong focus on outreach is basic to the Program," said Vince Cornell, director. "We sponsor workshops for teachers, offer an annual Model Arab League, provide speakers to schools, and organize a yearly Elderhostel symposium. Because the Program has been built through bilateral projects, we are able to create opportunities for nearly every college and school on campus to participate."

In 1993, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave the University of Arkansas $23.5 million to establish a center for Middle East studies at the University of Arkansas, and at other public institutions of higher learning in the state. The program offers ample scholarships, assistantships, and opportunities for study abroad.

Each year, the program also supports the UA Press Award for Translation into English of notable works in Arabic fiction and poetry.

Vincent Cornell, director, King Fahd Middle East Studies Program, (479) 575-4157,
Mounir Farah, associate director, King Fahd Middle East Studies Program, (479) 575-4771,


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