Qatar effort may spin
off new opportunities
effort to place a U.Va. branch in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar
may have ended, but it could spin off several ideas that would have
an impact on the University in the years to come, University President
John T. Casteen III
said last week.
accreditation concerns, the University last month opted not to pursue
an agreement with the Qatar Foundation for Science, Education and
Community Development to establish a branch campus.
elaborated further in a meeting with local reporters Sept. 10. Any
agreement, he said, would have had to be acceptable to a variety
of interests: the University, the Qatar Foundation, state and federal
laws, and the University's accrediting agency, the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools. Ultimately, he and Vice President and Provost
Peter W. Low decided that all of those interests could not be satisfied.
They have since introduced Qatar Foundation representatives to other
U.S. universities that might be better suited to the project, Casteen
added that the University will continue to seek opportunities to
develop new international programs. For example, he and several
other U.S. university presidents will soon resume an on-again, off-again
discussion with Chinese officials about establishing graduate study
programs there. U.Va. is seeking to establish a studio arts center
somewhere in Europe, Casteen said, and will also seek to reinvigorate
its relationship with Downing College at Cambridge.
"There are a lot of pieces out there," he said.
Qatar effort raised awareness of issues closer to home, Casteen
said. One of the programs U.Va. hoped to explore in Qatar was a
natural gas extraction project that could have significant economic
impact in both Qatar and Southwest Virginia. U.Va. may seek to continue
that effort, perhaps in concert with Virginia Tech, and has had
"very, very preliminary conversations" with officials
in Blacksburg, he said.
And as a result of considering the natural gas process, the University
has become more aware of the needs of Southwestern Virginia in general,
including access to advanced health care and economic development
issues, Casteen said.
will continue to have a high profile in the Middle East, Casteen
said, thanks to the work of several current and former faculty members
with ties to the region, including R.K. Ramazani, Nathaniel Howell,
Vamik Volkan, John Norton Moore and several physicians. Some professors
involved in the Qatar negotiations may also pursue research opportunities
there as well, he said.