FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Dr. Jamil Chaker, Counselor to the Minister of Higher Education in Tunisia, will visit the University of Arkansas March 2 — 8 to discuss formal academic exchange agreements that will be signed by the U of A and leaders of Tunisia’s major universities in early April.

Dr. Chaker will meet with campus leaders, Fulbright College faculty and administrators, and students while on campus, working out details for establishing formal agreements of friendship and cooperation. The final agreements will further the academic goals of international programs in Fulbright College and The University of Tunis I, the Bourghiba Language Institute, the University of Tunis—El Manar, and the University of the Center’s Institute of Music in Sousse.

"This signing represents significant progress toward our goal of expanding our program’s curriculum to embrace the Islamic world as a whole," said Dr. Vincent Cornell, director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies. "We laid the foundation for these cooperative agreements last April, when a delegation from the University traveled to Tunisia and met with several leaders in the Ministry of Higher Education."

The universities will pledge to share academic, research, and educational materials; develop exchange programs for students and faculty; create collaborative programs, seminars, and research programs; and explore venues for developing joint grant proposals to support educational exchanges.

"Most importantly, we will share a common mission, that of providing a high quality of education for students and opening up opportunities for productive partnerships among faculty," said Associate Dean Charles Adams, who directs international programs in Fulbright College. "These agreements will help us as we work toward establishing an international center devoted to the study of Mediterranean languages, cultures, history, and politics, a center that embodies the commitment to international education held by J. William Fulbright."

Led by Provost Robert Smith, the UA delegation will travel to Tunis in April for the formal signing and meet with the presidents and directors of Tunisian universities and Institutes. They will be hosted by Dr. Chaker, who has participated in numerous conferences in the United States on Mediterranean Studies. A respected scholar and the author of four books and numerous articles, Chaker has been in charge of international cooperation for the Ministry of Higher Education since 2000. During his visit, he will offer two lectures, "Introduction à la Renaissance Française: L’Exemple de François Rabelais" at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in Kimpel Hall 416, and "La Condition Féminine en Tunisie" at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 6 in Kimpel Hall 408. All are invited.

In spring 2003, the King Fahd Center and Université de Tunis I plan to sponsor an international conference in Tunis, "Spaces and Memories in the Mediterranean." Tunisia, a secular Arab nation in which Islam is the major religion, was among the first Arab nations to establish women’s rights. Located in Northern Africa and bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia is the smallest of the North African countries. During the last decade, it has devoted increasing resources to higher education, creating new universities throughout the country and doubling the number of faculty.


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