When California State University, Monterey Bay President Dianne Harrison travels to Jordan and Oman later this month, she will take a step toward the goal of establishing exchange programs with universities in the Middle East.

President HarrisonDr. Harrison is one of seven college and university presidents selected for the 2011 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program. Her group will leave March 24 for the Middle East and return to the United States on April 8.

The seminar is an opportunity for them to learn about the changing higher education scene in the Arab world and return home to share opportunities for future program development in the region with their respective campuses.

Dr. Harrison and the other presidents are scheduled to meet with campus leaders in both countries to discuss institutional mission, resources, challenges and opportunities to work with American partners. The trip will provide an opportunity to refine and expand the international vision and agenda of CSU Monterey Bay and the California State University system.

“Seminar members will undoubtedly develop a better understanding of these countries’ institutions of higher education,” Dr. Harrison said. “As we share expertise and gain knowledge, we also will be helping to break what President Obama has called a ‘cycle of suspicion and discord’ between the United States and Muslims worldwide."

She pointed out that a major objective of participating in the seminar is the chance to develop and strengthen international exchanges and opportunities for students and faculty at CSU Monterey Bay.

“I believe it is essential that we are inclusive of countries from all parts of the world,” Dr. Harrison said. “And that includes the Middle East. Our students and faculty can benefit by establishing partnerships with universities in the Middle East. By having their students come to the United States and to California we also add to our existing diversity on our campus."

Since arriving at CSUMB in 2006, she has worked to ensure that students not only understand the world in a global context but also experience it first hand by studying abroad.

Dr. Harrison’s extensive travel abroad has given her a greater global perspective and made her a strong advocate for international education. During her tenure at Florida State University, she participated in and oversaw international programs as a faculty member and administrator. Her work took her to countries across Western and Eastern Europe and to Vietnam, Israel, Jamaica, Trinidad and Panama.

Dr. Harrison’s group will spend five days in Oman before moving on to Jordan for five days. During that time, according to information from the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the program, the group will:

• Be exposed to Arab and Islamic culture;
• Have opportunities to observe and compare higher education systems with local counterparts;
• Meet with Education USA staff members who advise undergraduate and graduate students seeking information about study in the United States;
• Have discussions with administrators of study abroad programs for U.S. students; and
• Have opportunities to learn of special higher education initiatives such as the El Hassan Science City in Jordan and Oman’s development of a unified online admissions system.