UW-Madison to Sign Historic Agreement with Iraqi University

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is preparing to sign a historic agreement with one of the foremost institutions of higher education in Iraq.

On Monday, March 30, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin will meet by videoconference with Tikrit University President Maher Saleh Allawi to sign a memorandum of understanding pledging to explore and pursue opportunities for educational and scientific cooperation.

The signing videoconference will begin at 9:30 a.m. in 260 Bascom Hall. Martin will join the call between 10-10:30 a.m., and there will be time for media questions and answers after 10:30 a.m.

UW-Madison faculty and administrators, along with representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce will attend the session. Representatives of the U.S. State Department will participate with Allawi in Tikrit.

“Universities are uniquely positioned to assist in this regard,” says Division of International Studies Dean Gilles Bousquet, who is overseeing the agreement. “By sharing our expertise, we extend the boundaries of our campus to every place around the world where UW-Madison can make a difference. This is the Wisconsin Idea of the 21st century.”

In a teleconference last month, U.S. government officials in Iraq and faculty and staff from both universities identified Tikrit University’s crucial areas of need. These include up-to-date training in agriculture, public health, law and engineering.

Located about 100 miles north of Bagdad, Tikrit University is in a largely agricultural region near the Tigris River and has been isolated from outside instruction and research in past decades. Established in 1987, it is one of the largest universities in Iraq with more than 12,000 students.

With financial support from the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy, UW-Madison faculty have proposed several potential videoconferencing instructional opportunities for Iraqi faculty. These include dairy management and agricultural techniques, training for nurses and physicians, and providing Iraqi engineers with technological exchange and consultation in forming a professional association. These units, along with the Law School and the School of Medicine and Public Health, have also expressed a willingness to provide visiting scholars from Tikrit University with onsite instruction and access to research facilities on the Madison campus.

“Education is the most powerful, abiding means of ensuring stability and democracy in any society,” adds Bousquet. “It is a privilege to be part of this effort.”

As part of a larger endeavor to promote collaboration between U.S. and Iraqi universities, Tikrit University and U.S. Embassy public diplomacy officer Brett Bruen, a 2002 alumnus, contacted UW-Madison for a possible partnership in January. Bruen is attached to the Salah ad Din Provincial Reconstruction Team, which is responsible for the Tikrit area.

Tikrit University also has formal agreements with Texas A&M in agriculture and Baltimore University in law.

The Division of International Studies administers hundreds of agreements with institutions around the world each year with the purpose of advancing international education, research, and collaboration.

For additional details about the origins of the partnership, visit http://www.news.wisc.edu/16277.

To learn more about Tikrit University, visit http://www.tikrituniversity.org