April 9, 2006
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President Judith I. Bailey will lead a small WMU delegation to the Arab nation of Qatar this week to attend an international conference and explore higher education partnerships in that country.
The delegation will attend the Sixth Annual Doha Forum: Democracy, Development and Free Trade, set for Tuesday through Thursday, April 11-13, in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Bailey and three WMU faculty and staff members will travel to the region and attend the event as the guests of the Qatari government, with all expenses paid. Bailey is scheduled to serve as a panelist for one of the conference's sessions.
Nearly 600 business and government leaders, educators and journalists from around the globe are expected to attend the event, which will be opened with an address by the Emir of Qatar. The conference will focus on challenges faced by the Arab world, various types of reforms in the Middle East, media freedom, dialogue between civilizations, democratic moves and methods for combating terrorism.
U.S. delegates include members of Congress, administration officials, journalists from major media outlets and representatives of a handful of U.S. universities.
During the conference, Bailey will be part of a panel that will explore "The Clash of Civilizations" and focus on building a culture of tolerance and acceptance between nations through education and communication. Joining her on the panel will be a former president of Lebanon, a French senator, a parliamentarian from Tunisia and California Congresswoman Diane Watson.
Other members of the WMU delegation attending the conference and examining opportunities in Qatar will include Dr. James Bosco, professor emeritus of educational studies, Dr. James Butterfield, professor of political science, and Brett Berquist, executive director for international programs in WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to explore some new possibilities that we might pursue as we continue to strengthen our international programs and connections," says Bailey. "We have strong ties to Qatar and we would like to continue the dialogue we've begun about how to build on those ties by establishing program and economic partnerships in that nation and promoting more opportunities for Qatari students to travel to Michigan for university study."
In addition to attending the conference, the WMU group will meet with officials from the University of Qatar, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatar Foundation. The latter organization is the developer of Education City, a 2,500-acre desert location being transformed into a world-class educational facility populated by branch campuses of U.S. institutions like Cornell, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Commonwealth universities.
Bailey says Qatari officials have expressed interest in a number of WMU's program areas, including education, public administration, political science and the fine arts.
This is the second trip to Qatar for Bailey, who traveled there in fall 2004. Qatari officials have visited the WMU campus in recent years as well, including Ambassador Omar Bader Al-Dafa, who served as his nation's ambassador to the United States from 2000 to 2005. Al Dafa is a WMU alumnus, as is Ambassador Nasser bin Hamad M. Al Khalifa, the current Qatari ambassador to the United States.
Qatar is an independent state in the Persian Gulf region and a neighboring state to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. The country is situated midway along the western coast of the gulf and has a population of nearly 800,000.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, email@example.com
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