West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee and a contingent of faculty and staff are taking the Mountaineer spirit some 7,000 miles away to the Middle East.

Gee and company are engaging in a goodwill tour of the Middle East this week as they visit Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar to celebrate partnerships, meet with dignitaries and open the first WVU alumni chapter there.

Their trip begins at the Royal University for Women, which formed a partnership with WVU in 2009 following recruiting trips to Bahrain by Tom Sloane, executive director of International Student Life and Global Services, David Stewart, associate vice president of International Student Life and Global Services, and Michael Wilhelm, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars.

All three are accompanying Gee, as are Chris Martin, director of WVU’s Occupational Medicine program; Tom Borgia, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry Gene Cilento, dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Radhey Sharma, professor and chairman of the civil and environmental engineering program; Sam Ameri, professor and chairman of petroleum and natural gas engineering; Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute and Nancy McIntryre, interim dean of the College of Business and Economics.

“West Virginia University is an institution with international reach,” Gee said. “The Gulf region is an important part of our global strategy.”

At the Royal University for Women, school officials will sign a memorandum of understanding to continue the two universities’ partnership. Officials will also sign a declaration exploring the setup of a RUW-WVU Energy Centre and the offering of a WVU engineering degree at RUW.

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Over the last six years, both universities have collaborated on faculty and student exchanges, curricula development and continuing education programs. On Tuesday, RUW will host its fourth annual Forensic Accounting and Fraud Workshop, which was inspired by the WVU College of Business and Economics’ forensic accounting and fraud examination program.

RUW, the first private international university in Bahrain dedicated solely to educating women, was founded by members of the Al-Zamil family, who attended WVU in the 1970s and 1980s. The family – Zamil (MA ‘73), Fahad (AB ‘76), Waleed (BS ‘86) and Tawfiq (BS ‘86) – founded several successful business operations in the Middle East and are known for their philanthropy.

The WVU group will then travel to Kuwait to charter the first alumni chapter in the Middle East.

Kuwait already has had a longstanding partnership with the WVU School of Dentistry.

They will wrap up the tour in Qatar by signing a memorandum of understanding with Qatar University.

“I’m particularly looking forward to participating in the launch of the WVU Alumni chapter in Kuwait,” Borgia said. “The Kuwaiti students who have been a part of the School of Dentistry are proud Mountaineers, and we all benefit from their continued connections to the School and the University.”

Borgia will also travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with the dean of the dental school at the University of Dammam. WVU and the University of Dammam are working on a plan to collaborate on postgraduate programs in dentistry and other biomedical sciences.

Gee believes the trip will be instrumental in bolstering WVU’s global presence.

“We will continue to encourage ingenuity and creativity to bring forth new ideas – bold innovations – to our global landscape,” Gee said. “Together, we will ensure that our world is moving toward a brighter future – a future that embraces our differences so that our commonalities create opportunities for success.”



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