Athens, Ga. – The president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has bestowed one of his country’s highest honors upon his fellow citizen and UGA engineering professor Takoi K. Hamrita. The Republic Medal of Merit in Education and Science recognizes Hamrita’s successful efforts to help shape the future of higher education in Tunisia through innovative pilot projects and training programs in distance learning, university management and evaluation and university public service and outreach.
The national award is a result of one of UGA’s most successful and productive international partnership programs, the UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership. As the project’s founding director, Hamrita leveraged support from the U.S. Department of State, the Tunisian government, UGA, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and Tunisian universities to forge a new model of international educational collaboration. Since 2002, the partnership has provided for the exchange of more than 100 individuals including faculty, staff, administrators and students from UGA and several Tunisian universities, representing dozens of departments and disciplines.
By providing a forum for faculty from multiple disciplines and universities to collaborate on important national initiatives, the partnership has established a wide constituency within Tunisia. Inspiring a culture of active and engaged faculty eager to promote good teaching and affect institutional change culminated in the creation of a Tunisian e-learning association by partnership program alumni. For UGA, the project has created a sustainable presence for university-level collaboration in the Arab-Muslim world, representing crucial new opportunities for faculty and students.
“The UGA Tunisia Educational Partnership forged by Dr. Hamrita dovetails precisely with the UGA core missions of teaching, research and public service and supports UGA’s strategic direction toward competing in a global economy,” said Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UGA. “The scale and diversity of participants and disciplines Dr. Hamrita have engaged in this partnership has instilled it with a sense of innovation that serves UGA and Tunisian universities with remarkable ingenuity and an eye toward the future”.
Hamrita, 22 years after leaving her native Tunisia to study electrical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is realizing in the partnership the means to achieve personal goals by creating opportunities for others.
“When you grow up in a developing country, academic achievement is central to your life and you grow up with aspirations to change the world,” she says. Where once she was concerned that her field of engineering would too narrowly define her career, the systems approach Hamrita uses to guide the partnership has opened new professional arenas as well as reconnecting her with Tunisia in a capacity in which she can help mold its future.
The UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership was established by grants from the U.S. State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as well as support from the University of Georgia and the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education.
For more information on the UGA-Tunisia Education Partnership and Hamrita’s award, please visit www.tunisia.uga.edu.