KSU delegation makes historic visit to Libya

 Mission to explore partnerships comes just weeks before political turmoil  Top Kennesaw…

Georgia (Mar 3, 2011)

 Mission to explore partnerships comes just weeks before political turmoil

 Top Kennesaw State University administrators made an historic and diplomatic visit to Tripoli in January to explore the expansion of academic partnerships, weeks before the political unrest sweeping the Middle East reached the Libyan capital.

 The university was invited by the Libyan Paralympic Committee to meet with its officials and representatives of the country’s Ministry of Education and Al Fatah University as a follow up to a ground-breaking Arab-American Dialogue hosted in 2009 by the Global Center for Social Change in KSU’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services.

 KSU’s delegation included Barry Morris, vice provost for global engagement and strategic initiatives, Richard Sowell, dean of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services, and Arlethia Perry-Johnson, vice president for external affairs. Their visit constituted a second round of talks emanating from the original dialogue, following meetings in December among Libyan officials and educators and KSU faculty members.

 “If you consider that the U.S. only reestablished relations with Libya during the last presidential administration, this was a very historic visit,” said Perry-Johnson.  “We couldn’t have foreseen the events occurring now in Libya, however during our visit, we were very well received.  We were encouraged by the strategic goals that the Libyan officials outlined and their enthusiasm for collaborating with Kennesaw State.”

 During a week-long series of meetings and presentations, officials from the hosting organizations outlined their programs and conveyed hopes for collaborations to support programs in nursing, teacher education, curriculum and professional development and for enhancing handicap access.

 KSU’s initial contact with Libyan officials during its first Arab-American Dialogue addressed workplace access issues for persons with disabilities.  WellStar College and its Global Center for Social Change organized the dialogue, which drew representatives from more than a dozen Arab World countries. The college has worked closely with several Arab universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop initiatives for persons with disabilities. 

 While the outcome of the January meetings remains uncertain as events unfold in Libya, KSU officials are optimistic that the talks ultimately will be beneficial.

 “I believe we have established a very important framework in Libya,” said WellStar College’s Dean Sowell, who was invited to return to the country in May.  “We have established firm relationships and demonstrated what we can offer that may be important in helping meet their aspirations.  I think this puts us in a good position to move forward when the dust clears, regardless of the political outcomes.”

 Morris, who leads KSU’s global education initiatives, said continuing to develop relations in the Middle East and North Africa helps advance the university’s educational mission because the region is very important economically and geo-politically, as well as from cultural, social, and historical perspectives.  

  “As I observe the historical upheaval occurring in the region, I find myself reflecting on the fundamental human impulse for freedom empowered by today’s technology, youthful energy and global examples of positive change,” Morris said. “These newly combined forces create an environment where educational and civil society connections with the rest of the world have unprecedented potential to produce powerful, positive forces of change.”



-- Sabbaye McGriff





A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu