University receives international award for its UGA-Tunisia Program

University receives international award for its UGA-Tunisia Program

Athens, Ga. — The University of Georgia-Tunisia Educational Partnership has been selected to receive the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the Institute of International Education, the world’s most pre-eminent global higher education and professional exchange organization. The annual award honors innovative new models in internationalization and recognizes their success in removing institutional barriers to international study and broadening the base of participation in the international elements of teaching and learning on campus.

The award will be accepted by Takoi Hamrita, engineering professor and the partnership’s founding director, in New York at the United Nations building, on March 13 in conjunction with the Third Annual IIE Best Practices Conference. As part of the event, Hamrita will join a panel of national experts to discuss comprehensive strategies for campus internationalization. Additionally the UGA-Tunisia program will be featured by the Institute’s magazine, IIE Networker, and will be showcased as a “Best Practice” in international exchange partnerships on the Institute’s Web site, IIENetwork (http://iienetwork.org/), to serve as a resource and inspiration for the international community worldwide.

Established in 2002 and funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the MEPI program of the U.S. State Department, the UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership has expanded UGA’s international programs to a new and important part of the world while piloting essential higher education reforms in Tunisia. The program’s Heiskell Award follows two prestigious Tunisian awards offered in 2007, the National Medal of Merit in Science and Education by the president of Tunisia, and the Tunisian Community Center Ibn Khaldoun Award for Excellence in Community Service.

Within five years, the UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership has distinguished itself due to a number of outstanding achievements and unique characteristics making it a new and innovative model in university international collaboration and globalization.

“Effective conceptual models for building coherent, substantive international programs are rare,” said Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. “The efforts of Dr. Takoi Hamrita on behalf of the UGA-Tunisia Partnership have established a far-reaching, new paradigm for university international collaboration and globalization based on a complex systems approach, and brought great honor and opportunity to the University of Georgia.”

“We’ve had unique opportunities for resource and knowledge integration, improved connectivity of all university functions, and overcoming of institutional, disciplinary, and role barriers,” said Hamrita.

Blending the core missions of the university around an array of research, teaching and service projects within the collaborative impetus of globalization, the partnership has succeeded in achieving large scale impact both in Tunisia and at UGA.

Among the program’s most notable achievements are the building of a sustainable e-learning environment in Tunisia through intensive and holistic human resource development programs and fostering of collaborative framework and leadership; building international, multidisciplinary communities where graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, administration, and community come together to achieve shared goals in education and development; and expanding the role of engineering in social and global development. Higher education leaders in Tunisia have praised the UGA program as one of the most innovative and effective educational partnerships to exist between Tunisia and the U.S.