College Park, MDUniversity of Maryland President C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr., is one of six presidents of U.S. research universities who will visit Iranian universities in November on a trip organized by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Association of American Universities (AAU). AAU President Robert M. Berdahl, who will lead the delegation, said the trip is in response to an invitation by the president of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, which will host the visit. The group will visit Tehran University and several other Iranian universities, as well.
The visit, which is supported by the State Department, is part of a series of exchange visits by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering structured around specific topics of mutual scientific interest.
"The delegation's focus is on strengthening academic ties and exchanges," said Mote. "There have been National Academy delegations preceding this one, as well as delegations from Iran to the United States. We expect to share information and look for opportunities to collaborate in the future."
The other university president members of the delegation include: Jared Cohon, Carnegie Mellon University; David Leebron, Rice University; J. Bernard Machen, University of Florida; David Skorton, Cornell University; and Larry Vanderhoef, University of California, Davis.
In addition to meetings with academic leaders and with other higher education officials, the group will meet with faculty and students. At Sharif University, Iran's premier science and technology university, an open forum with students will be held.
Strong academic ties can help provide the basis for greater understanding between the two countries. The nation's efforts in science and higher education are enhanced when it attracts students, scientists, and scholars from other nations, and when it collaborates with scientists and scholars in those countries. On our own campus, there are more than 60 students from Iran and many faculty and students of Iranian descent.
The University of Maryland has in recent years strengthened its academic programs on the Middle East. The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies was established in 1974 to conduct research and instruction on the history and culture of the Jewish people. In 1997 the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development was established to further dialogue on peace in the Middle East. In 2004, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute Center for Persian Studies was established to offer programs in Persian language, literature, and classical cultures and civilizations within Persian speaking societies. And just last year the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies was established to examine the cultural, historical, political, economic and intellectual forces that shape and influence Israel's past, present and future. "This trip will strengthen these efforts and further our understanding of the Middle East," President Mote said.