ECU signs education pact with Kashmiri University
(Oct. 14, 2004)
East Carolina University officials signed a partnership agreement with a Kashmiri university Oct. 14, 2004, formally establishing a global connection between ECU and the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The document was signed simultaneously in the United States and Islamabad. ECU officials met in the Global Classroom of the Science and Technology Building.
Jim Smith, ECU's interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, thanked Kashmiri officials and Robert Hugins, U.S. cultural ambassador to Pakistan for their efforts in making the partnership a reality.
"Thanks for all you have done to honor this moment of forming a friendship, for the sake of our citizens and yours, for our students and yours, and frankly, for the sake of a better world," Smith said. "We are extending courses beyond our campus, into other parts of North Carolina, across the country, overseas, and now, to you in Kashmir. I believe, if the people of the world could come together, our humanity would be seen as a shared gift, our opportunities would be seen as shared opportunities and I believe our future would be a shared future."
Manzoor Hussain Khan, vice chancellor of the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, said the partnership would provide avenues of understanding and friendship through the virtual bond.
"Physical distance has no meaning now, and there is no doubt our actions are contributing significantly to our students," Khan said. "We will be able to bring the people of these two countries even closer."
The partnership encourages the two universities to develop research projects; organize joint academic endeavors, such as courses and conferences; exchange research; explore the possibility of student exchange programs; and develop community service projects.
"It is important for us to understand more about the Muslim culture and for them to know more about America," said Rosina Chia, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global Academic Initiatives. "This is the best, the most cost effective, and perhaps the only way where future leaders from these two cultures can have a first-hand interaction with each other to increase understanding and develop friendship."
Plans are already developing for an international cultures course between the two universities using the Global Classroom, which links ECU with other countries via the Internet and allows students to converse and share lectures with their counterparts in foreign lands.
"In coming months, a classroom of Kashmiri students will interact via Internet video and audio with their counterparts at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. This is a unique way to build people-to-people contacts among young people in remoter areas where it would normally not be possible to meet people from a foreign land," said Nancy Powell, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, in remarks to the American Study Conference in Islamabad.
The partnership between the two universities coincides with several foreign policy goals of the United States with regards to Pakistan, including the fostering of mutual understanding between the two nations.
This year the U.S. Department of State began supporting and funding East Carolina University's global classroom as a model for American universities to increase international outreach. Twelve other American universities and colleges began similar initiatives based on the ECU model with grants from the state department.
The global classes emphasize student discussions and partnerships.
"All these add to the cognitive conten