Baylor Professors to Return from Iraq After Dedicating Center for Democracy and Diplomacy

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Dec. 14, 2005

MEDIA ADVISORY

by Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

See related stories:

Aug. 26, 2003 - Baylor Poised To Help Rebuild Higher Education In Iraq

Dec. 23, 2003 - Baylor Professors Tell Of Jubilation In Iraq During Successful Higher Education Workshop

April 22, 2004 - Iraqi University President Outlines Higher Educational Reform For Iraq

With Iraqi citizens heading to the polls to vote in historic elections, four Baylor University professors are headed back to Texas after helping their colleagues at Dohuk University in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq establish and dedicate Dohuk's Center for Democracy and Diplomacy.

The faculty members will meet with reporters at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, in Baylor's Center for International Education on the second floor of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library. The news conference also will be available later Thursday afternoon via streaming video at BaylorTV.com.

(To get to Poage Library, turn right off University Parks Drive into the main Baylor entrance. The drive will veer to the right of the Jones Library. As you continue down the drive, Poage Library is located on your left. A Baylor campus map can be found at www.baylor.edu/map.)

Speaking at the news conference will be Dr. William A. Mitchell, The Jo Murphy Chair of International Education, professor of political science and director of the Center for International Education; William Hair, associate dean and director of the University Libraries; Dr. Larry Lehr, senior lecturer in environmental studies; and Dr. Brad Owens, associate professor of journalism.

From Dec. 6-11, the four professors continued Baylor's already established presence in the rebuilding of the Iraqi higher education system with their third trip to the region since 2003.

Plans for the current journey began months ago. Dohuk President Asmat Khalid extended another invitation to Mitchell to return to Iraq and assist with the establishment of the Center for Democracy and Diplomacy, which aspires to share knowledge to develop responsible citizens and to educate leaders, dedicated scholars and skilled professionals who appreciate an enriching cultural diversity. In preparation, Baylor's faculty delegation conducted extensive research into relevant topics pertaining to higher education and its role in a democratic society to present to Dohuk faculty and administrators, as well as government officials, NGOs and education leaders.

Baylor has had a statement of cooperation in place with Dohuk since 1996, although Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime did not allow the universities to accomplish any part of their initial agreement. That changed more than two years ago when three Baylor professors traveled to northern Iraq at Asmat's request.

In August 2003, a Baylor faculty delegation of Mitchell, Dr. Mark Long, director of Middle East studies, and Professor Bill Baker, lecturer in Arabic, conducted a preliminary assessment of Dohuk's educational and instructional needs. While in Iraq, they also witnessed the devastation caused by Saddam's authoritarian rule on Iraq's higher education system, primarily extensive damage to university buildings, computer facilities, technological networks and libraries.

Then in December 2003, Mitchell led a multidisciplinary team of 23 Baylor professors - at the time the largest academic group from a U.S. university to travel to Iraq - to present seminars at Dohuk. Adding to the historical significance of this trip was the fact that the Baylor delegation departed the United States on the day of Saddam Hussein's capture by U.S. forces. The delegation returned to Waco nine days later with stories of the celebratory atmosphere in Iraq, the warmth and hospitality the group experienced, and the striking contrast of the depleted and devastated resources.

Highlighted by the inauguration and dedication of the Center for Democracy and Diplomacy, Baylor's most recent journey to Iraq included presenting seminars and workshops for Dohuk faculty and other higher education leaders on curriculum development, the role of higher education in civil society, web-based and distance learning, teaching and research in comparative politics, and the role of the news media in civil society, among other topics.

For more information about the news conference, contact Julie Carlson, senior staff writer in the Baylor Office of Public Relations, at (254) 710-6681 or mobile (254) 722-8010.

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