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President Casteen's Statement Regarding Qatar

August 10, 1999 -- For about a year, we have worked with the Qatar Foundation for Science, Education, and Community Development on planning for a new university to be located in the State of Qatar. We continue to support this project, but it seems unlikely now that the new university will be structured as a branch of the University of Virginia.

The new university is important and eminently feasible. At the same time, the barriers to developing a University of Virginia branch in a distant place are considerable. The standard American accreditation criteria work well for U.Va. After detailed analysis and much effort on all sides, the academic design for the proposed new campus in Qatar cannot be made to fit the accreditation criteria to which we are subject. For example, the established criteria on campus organization and administration do not apply readily to the special situation of a foreign campus operating as a part of U.Va. but located far away.

We have suggested possible alternative arrangements. These include a partnership with a consortium of several universities or with a multi-campus university system, a relationship with a private American university, and a cluster of stand-alone programs of restricted scope like Virginia Commonwealth University's successful design program in Doha, Qatar. We will continue to assist the Qatar Foundation as requested.

This undertaking has underscored the importance of international education to students and faculty, and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has brought to light many links between Virginia corporations and the Gulf Region, including particularly the State of Qatar. And it has revitalized our long-standing academic engagements in the Gulf Region and the Arabian Peninsula.

We have come to know and admire H.H. Sheikha Mozah Al Misnad, who originally proposed the new university. We believe she will succeed in this undertaking, and we have only the highest regard for her and for those who work with her.

We are grateful to many persons who have supported this venture. These include members of the University's Board and faculty; state officials, including Governor Gilmore, who submitted the enabling legislation under which we have explored the proposed arrangement; individuals from the U.S. Department of State and private industry; and many others who have had prior experience in the Middle East.

Because the Qatar Foundation is continuing to work on this project, University officials will make no further comments at this time.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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