West Virginia University Provost Michele Wheatly will be heading to Oman and Jordan this week as one of only seven senior academic officers selected for a Department of Education-sponsored trip to help build ties between the Arab world and the United States.

The two week Fulbright-Hays seminar is designed to help top academic leaders learn more about the changing higher education scene in the Arab world and return home to share opportunities for future program development in the region with stakeholders on their respective campuses.

The program’s goal is “to create a medium for open and honest exchanges of views and for all of the participants to come away enlightened about the approaches taken.”

The seminar will include presentations by David Mack, former ambassador and deputy assistant secretary for Near East affairs; and Theodore Kattout, former ambassador to Syria. While in Oman and Jordan, the group will tour several educational institutions and meet with educational leaders and U.S., Omani and Jordanian diplomats, including ambassadors.

Topics include accreditation and quality assurance, internationalization of higher education, strategic planning and linking higher education to the workforce. Participants will also learn about Arab and Islamic culture and visit significant sites such as forts and souks in Oman and the ancient Nabatean city of Petra and Roman ruins at Jerash in Jordan.

“This couldn’t come at a better time,” Wheatly said. “Two of the five goals in our 2020 Strategic Framework for the Future relate directly to increasing our international ties and this will give me an opportunity to learn how WVU can strengthen its connections to this important region of the world.

“Our Health Sciences Center already has a strong footprint in Oman, through the Oman Medical College, which WVU helped found,” she said. “And we already have a large contingent of Arab students on campus. This gives me the opportunity to spread WVU’s name abroad, as well as bring back more ideas for developing even deeper ties.”

Wheatly will be in the region for two weeks, beginning this week.

“It’s a wonderful honor for WVU and Provost Wheatly to be included in this rare opportunity,” President Jim Clements said. “Our international connections and outreach will be increasingly important as we move forward to implement our strategic framework for the future.”



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