LEE C. BOLLINGER: Welcome to today's meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, and I'd like to remind the audience that this meeting is on the record. I'd also like to say that participants around the nation and the world will view this meeting and hear this meeting in a live webcast on the council's website, and as always, you are asked to turn off your cell phones, BlackBerrys and all wireless devices.
The subject is "American Universities in the Middle East: Agents of Change in the Arab World." We have four very important institutions and their leaders here.
And starting from my far left is Joseph Jabbra, the president of the Lebanese American University in Lebanon, a lawyer with a PhD in political science, who has been president for two-and-a-half years. David Arnold, president of the American University in Cairo, Egypt, field of public administration, and has been doing this for three-and-a-half years. Win Thompson to my right is the chancellor of the American University of Sharjah of the UAE. His field his history and law and has been doing this as chancellor for five years. And then, John Waterbury, president of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, field of political science, was at Princeton for many years, and for the past 10 years has been president of the American University of Beirut, has a wonderful background of having been associated with two universities, Michigan and Columbia. (Laughter.)
It is a pleasure to begin this conversation, and I would like to go sort of directly to the question of the nature of your institutions. The very term "American" conjures up a lot of possible meanings.
What -- how would you describe sort of the nature or character of your institutions? And I would just ask that we keep this very brief because I know when people ask me to sort of describe Columbia University, I'm sort of off and running, and an our later it's too late for anybody.
John, do you want to start?
JOHN WATERBURY: Well, I'll give it a shot. We think it has as much to do with our value system as what we teach, and we think that common to virtually all American institutions of higher learning are a set of values that we try to impart to our students, that we try to impart to our faculty: a sense of mutual respect, tolerance for people of very diverse backgrounds. Of course, diversity itself is something we seek to achieve.
We seek to encourage responsible, free speech and of course responsible academic freedom. We expose students to a wide range of choice in the design of their program of studies, and we all emphasize general education or a liberal arts education, a broad-based exposure to the great wealth of human creativity and knowledge.
WINFRED THOMPSON: I would agree with everything that John said. My expectation is a bit unique in that it was established not by an initial American connection but by the ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah.
MR. : (Laughs.)
THOMPSON: And he did establish the institution on American models, even though he himself was educated in Egypt and in the United Kingdom. And we try, within the unique cultural circumstances that we find ourselves, to conduct all our activities as much as we would as an American institution located here in the Untied States in terms of our values, our traditions and the way in which we provide young people with an educational experience.
BOLLINGER: Thank you.
DAVID ARNOLD: I was asked soon after I joined AUC whether I regarded AUC as an American university or as an Egyptian university, and my answer was "yes." (Soft laughter.) Because it is an American university with long, deep roots in Egyptian soil, having been active and a part of the fabric of Egyptian society for nearly 90 years. But what makes it uniquely an American institution is the values that John and Win have alluded to, but also the curriculum that really emphasizes critical thinking skills, producing people who are not just well-trained but are well-educated, that have the kind of broad-based liberal arts education that I think is -- we regard as somehow uniquely American. And for better or worse, American higher education is one of the few things in which the United States is still regarded as setting the gold standard worldwide, and each of our institutions benefits from that and attempts to carry that stamp of quality in the education that we provide and deliver.
BOLLINGER: Thank you.
JOSEPH G. JABBRA: Well, our institution, the Lebanese American University, was established a long time ago. Just think for a moment -- 1835, when a bunch of Presbyterian adventurers decided to travel to Lebanon and establish, really, a school for the education of women in the Ottoman Empire.
But our university as a group really embodies the highest, the most important values of American higher education, which in turn really embody American values. And that's very, very important for all of us. These institutions are out there doing an incredible job in order to provide the opportunity for youths of that region to get an education, an American education, that is second to none.
BOLLINGER: This is really admirable on the part of everybody. I appreciate that brief.
The title of this is "Agents of Change." So the obvious question is, do you think of yourselves as change agents? And what does that mean to you? And what are you trying to change, and for what ends? And David, would you start on that?
ARNOLD: Well, I think one of the important roles that each of our institutions play is in terms of gender equity, and the role that we've played over many, many years and decades in terms of women's education. And certainly in our part of Middle East and Arab world, one cannot overlook the importance of that in terms of societal change and social progress. We're very proud of having female alumni, women alumni that are, you know, playing roles, like Queen Rania of Jordan or Suzanne Mubarak in Egypt and, you know, many, many others. So one way in which we're contributing to change in our societies is by providing educational opportunities for women leaders to play important roles.
The other is really in supporting and strengthening the institutions of civil society in the Middle East. We have a variety of student community service and outreach activities connected with local NGOs. We've recently established a new Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, which is dedicated to the memory and the work of our former president, the late John Gerhart, that is really doing work to promote and encourage the development of Arab philanthropy and the strengthening of civil society institutions.
And given the strong state apparatus that exists in Egypt and in other countries, one can't really imagine making the transition to a pluralist-style democracy without a lot of energy and effort devoted to building up and strengthening those civil society institutions. And that's a very crucial role that we play in a quiet way, and in a way that is sort of below the radar, so to speak, but that I think over time is making an important and valuable contribution.
John, what would you say?
WATERBURY: Well, I'm tempted to say that in Lebanon, we don't really have to be change agents. Because I think Lebanese have just an innate instinct for change. They welcome it in a whole host of ways. They're not uncomfortable with it. They have a great tradition of innovation. So we're facilitators in many ways, and I think we help shape how change occurs.
But we certainly, in all the respects that David mentioned, see ourselves as active. AUB became a co-ed institution in 1920, 50 years before my alma mater, Princeton, really thought seriously about it. And that was in the Middle East. So we emphasize the value of innovation, the value of taking initiatives and changing situations which many regard as intolerable. It's more by example, I think, than by curriculum and course content.
BOLLINGER: So that question goes to sort of what kind of values do you sort of embrace and how do you project those values in societies in the Middle East.
What about the degree to which, from your vantage point, the United States understands or doesn't understand the Middle East? You begin by thinking about sort of American values as we think about them, academic institutions. What about the level of United States' knowledge about the Middle East from your vantage point? Win, what would you say?
THOMPSON: In general I would say that certainly in the United Arab Emirates -- and I think this may be true in larger parts of the Arab world -- individuals are much more knowledgeable about the United States than Americans would be about the Arab world. That's understandable, in that the United States is a large and powerful country and the Emirates is a very small, albeit rich, one.
But our students are probably more cosmopolitan, better traveled than students certainly at most state institutions in the United States, and I would say more so than many of the most prestigious institutions in the United States. Most of our students speak at least two, many speak three or four, languages and have traveled throughout the world. So I think they probably have a better perception of the United States than our own citizens have of people in the region.
And I hope you phrased that question so that I'm not required to speak to the question of the United States government. (Laughter.)
BOLLINGER: Joe? Joseph?
JABBRA: Let me get back to the issue of serving as agents of change. And I think this is really a fundamental question. And I think to believe -- I tend to believe that our institutions, American institutions do play the role of agents of change in two ways.
One, providing students with the opportunity to go through a process, an educational process, where reason and the heart come together. And that's very, very important. So that they learn, for example, how to solve conflict via peaceful means. They learn, for example, how to accept the other, although the other might have a different opinion than they do, without having recourse to violence.
The second way is really through our alumni. And we have an army of alumni. The four institutions, just for your information, have graduated 100,000 alumni. And those have occupied, do occupy important positions in society, in government, in the public service. And if you put the four universities together, at the present time, we enroll 22,000 students, and we have provided the region with 300 worth -- 320 to (3)25 years of service. And that's a change.
BOLLINGER: That's very important.
David, you want to say something about the --
ARNOLD: I think all of us recognize that the level of American awareness and knowledge and understanding of the Middle East is woefully inadequate.
But one of the positive things that I've seen during my brief time at AUC is an enormous increase in the number of American students that are wanting to come and study -- learn Arabic, pursue Middle East studies, understand more about the history, the culture, the religion, the politics of the Middle East region. We've seen a tripling and quadrupling in the number of study abroad students, the number of students coming to study Arabic at our Arabic at our Arabic Language Institute. And I have to say I think that augurs very, very well and very positively in terms of starting to change and increase the level of American understanding and awareness of the region.
BOLLINGER: I guess the question, to put it in a fairly sharp way, is, do you think American higher education has done an adequate or an inadequate job of educating young people about this region of the world that you know so well and are there to try to be agents of change? Do you think we've done a good job or a bad job? We may be doing a better job now, which you just said, but what do you think -- what's your assessment of the past 30, 40 years?
ARNOLD: I'm going to defer to John Waterbury -- (laughter) -- as his historic perspective and the Middle East scholar's --
BOLLINGER: Thank you for that answer. I really -- (off mike).
WATERBURY: I saw Jay Hurewitz in the audience. (Laughter.) (Chuckling.) Maybe I could defer to Jay
ARNOLD: John, why did you screw it up so badly? (Laughter.)
WATERBURY: I have -- I think there's, you know, huge variability in this. I'm not terribly critical of what higher education has done in the United States. I think we've -- we have a huge infrastructure in Middle East studies that goes coast to coast. We probably have as much human talent per capita in the United States studying and doing research, commenting on the Middle East, as any other part of the world.
At the same time, there are huge gaps of ignorance, sometimes willful or "I just don't want to know; it's too complex." But I think we've done a respectable job.
And certainly when I see kind of the statistics of publications which address a more popular audience, it looks like people are reading more about this region.
WATERBURY: They seem to be puzzled by it, rightfully so --
WATERBURY: -- and trying to get more than a superficial grasp on what's going on out there, because it's obviously affecting us deeply.
THOMPSON: Let me just add -- one of the by-products of 9/11 at least has been that I think people on both sides of the divide have made a greater effort to understand each other. And that, in part, has been what has produced the increase in the number of students in the United States who are studying Arabic and learning more about the Middle East.
From the other side, one of the things that struck me enormously when I arrived in Dubai less than a year after 9/11 was that there was a large skyscraper in Dubai; down the side of that skyscraper, from top to bottom, was a representation of the Statue of Liberty. And along with that was the note "New York, 1,500 dirhams." It was an advertisement for Emirates Airlines. (Laughter.) But it represented to me the fact that Arabs have not closed their minds about the United States as a result even of the current difficulties at the international level.
BOLLINGER: Let me just give you the statistics here because they may be -- maybe you will disagree with them, or maybe they reflect how you see things.
From '99-2000, 2.9 percent of U.S. students enrolling in international exchange programs went to the Middle East -- 2.9 percent. In 2003 and '04, that dropped to .5 percent of students enrolling in international exchange programs. In the following year it increased slightly to 1 percent.
Does that statistic trouble you? Is it consistent with what you know?
ARNOLD: I worked for the Institute of International Education that used to collect those statistics.
BOLLINGER: Right. Yes.
ARNOLD: Still does. (Laughter.)
One of the things that you need to understand and unbundle those numbers is that at the time that the first number was collected, there was a large number of students that were going to Israel, and that the number that were going anywhere in the Arab world was minuscule.
ARNOLD: Now what we've seen is a dramatic decrease in the number of students going to Israel for security reasons. And interestingly, as I alluded to, we've actually seen increases in the number of American students studying in other Arab countries in the Middle East region.
So the numbers -- I mean, if we want to talk about the percentage of Americans that study anywhere outside the United States, we will all get very depressed. But I think the trend is actually in a positive direction in terms of the overall number of Americans studying abroad, and from the perspective of our institutions, the number of American students that really do want to get past what they see on CNN or on the front page of the newspaper about the Middle East and really understand more about it personally.
BOLLINGER: All right. So let me go to the last question I can ask before opening it up to the audience, and that really is the -- you projected very effectively a sense that your institutions are sort of suffused with a character of intellectual values and broader values from America, and that part of your mission is to take those values and to bring them to students in the Middle East, but also to the respective societies in which you work. Yet realistically, one must expect -- one would think that there would be some difficulties in doing that, that there would be some pressures that would threaten academic freedom, your autonomy as institutions, that might come from U.S. government funding which might attach conditions or implicit conditions, or it might come from host countries. What would you say about that?
JABBRA: Let me address this question quite openly. I'd like to state with no uncertain terms that we are not agents of our government. We are there as institutions of higher education trying, really, to provide students with the opportunity to become educated. That's very, very important. Now, sometimes if American government provide us with some help and it so happens that what they're trying to do jives with the purpose, with the goal of the American government, so be it, but we're not agents of American government. We're not spokespeople for the State Department.
The other thing I'd like to mention is that being in Lebanon -- and John can speak to this particular issue -- we've never had any pressure from the government in Lebanon to limit academic freedom. We've never had any pressure from any of the political parties to do one thing or not to do the other. So that was very, very important.
WATERBURY: Well, your question was more about U.S. government --
JABBRA: It was both, both.
WATERBURY: Well, I can say very briefly on either side of this question have I experienced any direct pressure. There have been incidents of VIP-type people, which I think you would find in the United States. As you know, my cousin has applied and could you -- (laughter).
MR. : I would hope that would be true.
THOMPSON: Similarly, we -- first of all, we received no funding from the United States government, but we were founded by the ruler of Sharjah --
MR. : Your particular institute.
THOMPSON: In our own institution, yes.
MR. : The others do.
THOMPSON: But we were founded and very generously supported by the ruler of Sharjah, but he tells people, "I founded the institution. I don't run it." (Laughter.)
The more realistic issue for us is that we are affected by the culture and the religion, and I sometimes in briefing sessions for new faculty members coming from the United States say to them that if they wish to work in the environment at Berkeley, they need to get on the plane and go back to Berkeley -- (laughter) -- because the culture and the religion do impose certain restraints on the way issues are framed and discussed.
BOLLINGER: Do others agree with that?
ARNOLD: I think we're conscious that we are the American University in Cairo, and we are subject to the laws of Cairo. There are laws relating to censorship of theater performances, for example. There are laws that regulate the types of books or materials that can be imported into Egypt, and we fight constantly to make sure that the space that AUC occupies is truly a zone of academic freedom to the maximum extent possible. But we are cognizant of the fact that we do operate in a particular cultural, social, religious environment and try not to, you know, flagrantly push the sort of freedom to the outer limits.
But I do want to make the point that I've been struck by the respect that has been afforded to the unique space that AUC does occupy, both by the U.S. government, which has over many years provided support for facilities, scholarship support at AUC, and by the Egyptian government. They seem to get it. They understand that this is an academic institution, that it operates under a different set of rules than other aspects of society and certainly other national universities. So we do enjoy, I think, an extraordinarily large amount of freedom in terms of the work that we do.
BOLLINGER: And I think that's really extremely interesting.
I'm going to have to open it up to the audience, so that other people can participate. Please wait for the microphone, speak directly into it, stand and state your name and affiliation, and please limit yourself to one question.
QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. I'm a Chinese reporter working for Xinhua News Agency, and having been posted to Cairo for two and a half years, yes, I noticed that many rich people send their children to Cairo -- American University. So I wonder if this American university has become a(n) education institute for the elitist society in Egypt, and -- so that American values cannot be disseminated to ordinary people in Egypt.
MR. BOLLINGER (?): Thank you for the question.
ARNOLD: Thank you very much.
We work very hard to make sure that while we are academically an elite institution, we are not an elitist institution. More than 60 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship in order to study at AUC, and we're especially proud of the programs that we've developed to bring students from the government schools who could not afford to study at AUC to come on full scholarship. So we now have more than -- almost 10 percent of each incoming class is coming on a scholarship, either through our own public school scholarship program or from a special program that is reaching out to the 27 governorates of Egypt, bringing top public school students from the governorates to study at AUC under a program called the LEAD Scholars Program, which is training and developing future leaders for Egypt.
So there are segments of the AUC student population that come to school in very fancy cars. There are also a lot that take the metro or that walk and come on their own, and we are very proud and working very hard to maintain that diversity.
BOLLINGER: Good. Thank you.
QUESTIONER: Roswell Perkins, associated with Debevoise & Plimpton, a law firm -- Roswell Perkins, associated with Debevoise & Plimpton, a law firm. And the -- President Jabbra referred to students learning the resolution of conflicts, which piqued my interest in the extent to which your universities do seek to teach rule of law, independence of the judiciary and the concepts of dispute resolution that are part of American values.
JABBRA: Thank you. It's an excellent question, and I'm going to respond to it by giving you an illustration.
Last spring, we had an altercation on our campus. I met with the vice president, and I said I wanted to find out who the culprits were. The answer came back that there were about 19 students who were involved in it. We said you students are out. If you want to come back, you're going to have to enroll in three major workshops: one dealing with conflict resolution via peaceful means; two, how you control your anger; three, how you respect someone else who might happen to have a different opinion than yours; and the fourth one -- each one of you will have to do 150 community work hours, that is. And after that, the university will assess whether you're eligible to come back. Believe it or not, the 19 went through three workshops, 160 hours of community work; they passed the exam except one of them, and that one of them was rejected. That's a typical illustration of what we are trying to do.
BOLLINGER: Did you have the power to do this as president?
JABBRA: Yes. (Laughter.)
MR. : You jealous, Lee? (Laughs, laughter.)
BOLLINGER: Yes. If only, you know.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Kathleen McCarthy -- (laughs, laughter) -- Kathleen McCarthy from The Graduate Center of City University of New York.
A question for Dave. You mentioned philanthropy in the Middle East. Prince Talal comes to mind in terms of a fairly modern foundation, but I tend to think of the region more in terms of traditional religious trusts. Are we going to see Gateses and Rockefellers coming out of the region, or will Arab philanthropy be something different than the kinds of things that are developing in other parts of the world?
ARNOLD: I think it's going to be very interesting to watch and see. I mean, we've seen extraordinary examples, Prince Alwaleed and his generous support for Arab studies and Middle Eastern studies here in the U.S., and in turn, both at AUB and at AUC, he was the prime mover in creating centers for American studies, which -- I mean, you would think that institutions that have been around for as long as we have would have thought maybe we ought to have an American studies program, but it took a Saudi prince with $10 million, you know, for us to find merit in that idea.
But he's done remarkable things, and we're seeing other Arab -- wealthy Arabs that are starting to look at ways in which they can go beyond the traditional forms of mosques or hospitals and pursue more developmentally oriented and in some cases social change oriented forms of philanthropy -- creating schools for women, colleges for women, for example, in Saudi Arabia, doing things that are a little edgier.
And I think it's going to be fascinating to watch. But clearly, this new generation of people of means and the wealth that is being generated in certain parts of the Arab world now, I think, has lots of possibilities in terms of Arab philanthropy in the future.
BOLLINGER: Arab philanthropy? Win? John?
THOMPSON: It's already developing to some extent. Our institution was the result of the philanthropy of the ruler of Sharjah, who dedicated the funds to establish that institution and many others. So I think there is going to be an evolution over the next couple of decades in the kind of philanthropy we see in the very wealthy Gulf states.
WATERBURY: Lee, I think you're (in trust of ?) several billion dollars, so what I'm about to say may seem rather timid. But we launched a campaign about five years ago to raise $140 million for AUB to commemorate its 140th anniversary in the region, and we got it in four instead of five. I think there is a growing trend, I would say, at the top end of the scale for both foundation and individual philanthropy. Where there's been less progress, I think, is at the lower end, the $50 gift, the $100 gift, the annual gift. That's not in the habits yet. But the people with large wealth, I think, are much more interested in philanthropy as we know it.
BOLLINGER: In the back.
QUESTIONER: Yeah. My name is Jim Dingeman from INN. How has the conflict in Iraq impacted on your institutions?
BOLLINGER: Let's take two of you to talk about this, and let's go to Joseph.
JABBRA: I didn't quite get the impact of Iraq.
QUESTIONER: How has the conflict in Iraq impacted on your institutions?
JABBRA: Insofar as enrollment is concerned, it has not had any effect whatsoever. In fact, our enrollment continues to go up.
With respect to the debate that takes place among students, there's a lot of discussion about it, which is really very, very healthy. And that is in the final analysis, where, you know, Iraq is going; what's going to happen to that particular part of the world. And I think this is a very healthy debate.
But insofar as enrollment is concerned, it has not had -- not yet, anyway -- any impact on our enrollment.
THOMPSON: I think we have to assume that there has been some impact in making it more difficult for us to recruit faculty members from the United States in particular, and perhaps to a lesser degree, from Canada and Western Europe, merely because of concern about safety in the region. But once faculty members come to the campus, that concern dissipates. And during the five years I have been there, there has never been the slightest discourtesy to anyone at the university by anyone in the UAE. And I have never felt a moment's concern for safety, except when I get in an automobile. (Laughter.)
BOLLINGER: Dr. Varmus.
QUESTIONER: Harold Varmus, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I've been an adviser to the Cyprus Institute, which is a newly developing graduate school for training in the sciences in Nicosia that's predicated on the belief that strengthening science in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Turkey, and adjacent places, would be a means of contributing more people to the global scientific community.
And I'm curious to know how you think your own institutions are faring in the development of scientists who can participate in the global community, and whether you think a new institution in Cyprus is a place to which Arab students, in particular from North Africa and the Middle East, would be applying.
BOLLINGER: Let me just expand that question a bit because American universities are really struggling to figure out what kind of presences to have around the world. And one possibility is you just do more of what we have now, which is lots of foreign exchange, student exchange, faculty exchange, international students, and so on -- just do more of it. Another possibility is to have a network of universities and to try to have joint appointments, joint degrees. Another possibility is to set up centers in parts of the world. And a final one is to set up actual branch campuses. The place where people are going, institutions are going to set up branch campuses is the Middle East, and to the Emirates in particular.
What do you think of that?
QUESTIONER: Indeed, I might mention that the programs being developed in Cyprus are coordinated with MIT and other institutions in this country.
John, do you want to --
WATERBURY: If I could go back to the first part of the question, which I think both of you asked, there really is a tremendous challenge in the Middle East, or there's been a tremendous deficiency in the Middle East in advanced research of all kinds. It's recognized, but the governments themselves, over a long period of time, have proven basically incapable of addressing that challenge. So we talk about it.
I think our institution -- certainly AUB wants to play a major role in advanced research in the Middle East, help form a culture and an institutional framework to carry on advanced research. In that sense, I personally welcome the presence almost in every sense of U.S. universities that are operating as branch campuses in collaboration. We've seen medical school link-ups -- Harvard, Johns Hopkins -- with a number of medical institutions in the region. This has to be good. Are all of them viable? It's very early to tell. But I think it's a very positive sign that these kinds of commitments are being made by U.S. institutions.
BOLLINGER: Each of you can speak to this because it's important.
THOMPSON: I think it's too early to say what the trends will produce. There's hardly a day when some institution does not come through the American University of Sharjah with plans to open a campus somewhere in the Emirates.
I think what all of them will discover is that it must be a long-term commitment; that there is no way in which institutions are going to provide quality education in a cheap and quick fashion, and they're not going to make tremendous amounts of money doing it. It will take many years of effort to build up the educational infrastructure in the Gulf Region.
Having said that, the needs are very great because the number of quality institutions at the present time is very, very small. I would like to think you see a good percentage of it represented on this stage. So clearly, institutions in the United States and other parts of the world -- Australia is particularly active -- are going to have a role in educational development throughout the Gulf Region and the Middle East.
ARNOLD: Well, I think the best illustration of this problem was the findings that the Arab Human Development Report in 2003 made about the enormous gap and short coming -- short fall that exists in terms of science and technology, R&D, in the Arab world, and it's ironic that -- I mean, this is a part of the world that generated incredible breakthroughs in science and mathematics over many centuries. And the question of how do you recapture that, how do you build a knowledge society in the Arab world is one that I think all of our institutions are seized with and working at in whatever we can.
We've created a new science and technology research center that's doing -- linked with places like Cambridge and their nanotechnology center, with the idea that, you know, we can be a small kind of node; but to be effective, we really do have to connect with institutions elsewhere and that it's only through those networks that you're actually going to be able to make any real progress in whatever field you choose to tackle.
QUESTIONER: Sir, I need to correct an apparent misconception. The Cyprus Institute is a Cypriot organization supported by the government, headed by a distinguished Cypriot physicist, and American universities are cooperating in the development of graduate programs, but this a Cypriot organization.
JABBRA: Just two comments. There's no doubt in my mind that in a region of the world where there is so much money major, major research centers don't exist, either pure research or applied research. In here we can use all the help we can get.
Secondly, with respect to many American universities establishing branches there, we are American institutions, and competition is the best in the American tradition. So welcome to all of you, but when you go there, make sure that you're going there really to make a contribution to the region. And I'm sure you all have that in mind, and we're prepared to work with you.
Just before I leave, I'll take your business card, and I'll be in touch with you. (Laughter.)
BOLLINGER: I take it there's a unanimous endorsement for Dr. Varmus project. (Laughter.)
Yes, the woman in -- I'm sorry -- yes?
QUESTIONER: Hi. (Name inaudible.) I'm an attorney. I have one question and a comment. I was wondering if the University of Michigan has any links to Middle Eastern education. It seems the majority of you on the panel -- (laughter) -- and I would like some comment on that.
But my question is actually related to -- in Beirut. How hard is it to teach issues like rule of law, conflict resolution in a society or a region which often doesn't have good rule of law, particularly you spoke about the LEADs Program in Egypt? And if there's not democracy and election progress in Egypt, what's the point of having a LEADs program?
ARNOLD: I'm sometimes asked -- we have a great model United Nations program. It's the largest model U.N. program outside the United States. We also have a model Arab League program, and recently we created a new model Egyptian parliament program. And the kids that are involved in these really feel like they're representing the model of what they would like those institutions to be like and to behave like.
So there is a sense of hope and idealism and optimism on the part of young people that change is possible. And they do have a sense that the way things are is not necessarily the way they have to be in the future. And if we accomplish nothing else than to create that sense of hope and optimism and idealism and to fuel the aspirations of the next generation to make progress in the direction that they know from their own experience is where their country needs to be heading, then I think we will have done a great thing. And the LEADs Program simply extends that opportunity to kids from upper Egypt and from the delta and from towns that you've never heard of. And for them, coming and studying in Cairo is like a study abroad experience.
But to give them a sense that there's a better future that's possible if they work at it, if they're committed to it -- I think that's a very important, very valuable contribution.
BOLLINGER: Mr. Sorensen.
QUESTIONER: Well, thank you. Thank you. I'm Ted Sorensen at Paul, Weiss. As the uncle of at least two of your alumni and, I think, possibly more, and from at least two of your institutions, I would like to ask to what extent you track what happens to your alumni in terms of their professional or occupational decisions.
In this country there has been reported a disappointing decline in the number of graduates from top schools who are interested in going into public service. I'm hoping perhaps from your experience in Cairo you have many people going into the foreign service, either in their own countries or elsewhere.
BOLLINGER: That's an important question. Where do your graduates go --
BOLLINGER: -- and, in particular, into public service?
WATERBURY: Well, alas -- perhaps alas -- it's not been a public service in the truer sense of the word. Working for government organizations has not been a notable feature of AUB graduates, almost from the beginning. We have tended to be very strong in professional education, in engineering and in medicine in particular. And our graduates tend to work in the private sector, in the media, but not directly for governments.
Now, we're talking about -- we had a figure of 100,000 graduates among us all. AUB probably has 45(,000) or 50,000 living graduates. Clearly there's some thousands of them who are working in government. But the bulk are in professional life, and the bulk are in the Middle East. We estimate that something like 80 percent of our living graduates are somewhere in the Middle East. And I -- that's my little summary on our grads.
THOMPSON: We only have six graduating classes. It's relatively easy for us to keep up with them.
As in the case of AUB, most of our students envision careers in the private sector. Our largest program is engineering. The second-largest is business.
But the Emirati nationals, who constitute about 20 percent of our student body, do go into public service in large numbers, not only in the UAE but increasingly in international organizations that are active in the region. And significant numbers of our students from countries such as Pakistan and Iran also aspire to go into international development organizations of one kind or another. So there's some variation by nationality in those who aspire to public service, and the countries in which that is the case are somewhat surprising.
BOLLINGER: Quickly, David, Joseph.
ARNOLD: We have a direct pipeline from our political science department into the foreign service of Egypt. And it is impressive, as I travel around, to see the number of really top-rate foreign service officers in Egyptian embassies and consulates around the world, including the ambassador here in Washington who are alumni of AUC. The biggest challenge many of them face is their Arabic is not quite up to snuff. So some of them have to take remedial Arabic in order to pass the foreign service entrance exam. But there is a very significant presence of AUC alumni in Egypt's foreign service, which I think is one of the better foreign service operations worldwide.
We do also have a lot of students that end up in international organizations of the U.N. bodies around the world. Relatively few end up going into the civil service. But remarkably as, you know, you have ministers that are interested in reform and change, suddenly you find AUCans showing up in the finance ministry as advisers or in the central bank or other places. So they're certainly drawn into important public service positions.
BOLLINGER: Joseph, quickly.
JABBRA: We have 26,000 graduates from LAU, and we keep track of them for two reasons. One, we always need their feedback in terms of making sure that the curriculum we offer at the university in a variety of fields is always up to date. And secondly, we need to make sure that they will continue to have in their hearts a glow, that love for the institution, of course for alterior motives. But nevertheless, we keep very close track of them.
BOLLINGER: I'm sure.
Yes, the woman in the front here.
QUESTIONER: Gail Furman, NYU Medical School.
I'm just curious about the reverse statistics, as well, of students from the Middle East coming to the United States to universities, and also of professors, and if there has been, you know, a decline since 9/11.
BOLLINGER: There has been, yes.
BOLLINGER: That's your answer there.
ARNOLD: Unfortunately, there has been -- there was a very dramatic decline in the number of students from the Arab world coming to study in the U.S. That has started to improve, and in fact partly because of support now from some of the government's four scholarships to send Saudi students, to send students from Qatar, from the Gulf to study in the U.S. We've started to see the numbers moving back in the direction that we always want them to move in. All of us would be happy to see more students from the Arab world coming and studying in the U.S.
Still, the last report -- the Open Doors Report that I saw, which came out I think in October, showed that even with the improvement and with the additional support, that the overall numbers are still not back to the pre-9/11 levels, and I think it'll take a little while before that -- we get back where we should be.
BOLLINGER: Yes, the gentleman right there.
QUESTIONER: Could you describe the extent --
BOLLINGER: Name and --
QUESTIONER: All right. Joel Cohen, Rockefeller University and Columbia University. Could you please describe the extent of your academic and scholarly exchanges with Israeli universities and with Israeli scientists and scholars?
BOLLINGER: John, you want to start?
WATERBURY: Yeah. I have a very, very short answer. We have none. Lebanon, as most of you or some of you may know, is technically in a state of war and has been since 1948 with Israel, so by Lebanese law and by Lebanese government policy, any such contacts are simply off-limits.
THOMPSON: I must say that in the UAE, the visas continue to be problematic. But some visas to Israeli citizens have been granted, and it certainly would be my hope that in time that we can have exchange relationships.
BOLLINGER: David? Joseph?
ARNOLD: We've had Israeli participants in some scholarly conferences. We had a huge international mass communication research conference last year. I think we had about half a dozen Israeli scholars that were part of that. It of course generated attention in the local press and that sort of thing. But AUC has continued to have a policy that if somebody could get a visa to get into the country that, you know, they're welcome on the AUC campus.
JABBRA: We have no exchanges whatsoever. But however, we've had Jewish students come into the country, come to the university, and they were most welcome.
BOLLINGER: The woman in the back. Yes -- no, I'm sorry. (Laughs, laughter.) Which woman in the back? (Laughs.) I was going midrange, and then we'll go all the way to the back.
QUESTIONER: Thanks very much. I'm Michelle Gavin. I'm here with the council. I was just wondering about in general political activism and engagement of your student bodies, how widespread is it? What form does it take? Has it changed much over time? And does it have resonance in the society beyond the student body itself?
BOLLINGER: So that's student activism. Let's take the question in the back as the last two.
QUESTIONER: Hazel Denton, Johns Hopkins University. I'm trying to get a feel for what it's like to actually be at one of your universities.
MR. : Come and visit. (Laughs, laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Well, until that time, you have all these American faculty coming over. Very quickly, what is it they find different from what they expected?
BOLLINGER: Okay, so student activism and from faculty -- what do they find new?
Joseph, do you want to start?
JABBRA: I think with respect to the students, they are pretty much involved in -- and actively -- in student life. And some of the issues that are really occupying the country and even the region are very much debated on the campus without any restrictions whatsoever. In fact, we're in the process of really developing -- and that was sanctioned by the board -- developing a new structure for our student government to what extent students are to contribute to be participants in the governance of the institution. And this is something that we value as well as the students do.
As to faculty members who come from everywhere, I think they love it. They love it because they feel that they are getting, you know, the advantage of working at an American institution that is indigenous at the same time, and you can have the flavor of the American education system as well as the local and indigenous flavor. And that's very, very important. They love it.
WATERBURY: If we talk about student activism in terms of sort of formal politics, I would say it's not unlike a contemporary U.S. campus. We have a significant minority of students who are very politically active. They, perhaps more than would be the case in the U.S., take their cues from political leaders outside the university and they advocate whatever the cause may be. And it does change over time. I've been there for 10 years, and what political issues inside Lebanon seem to galvanize students have changed. I think you can imagine in the current situation, since last summer, that we have a set of issues that are quite specific to this period of time. But I would say there are, out of our 6,000 undergraduates, 500, 600 students who really get involved, and they're quite frustrated with the other 5,400 who are really worried about whether they're going to get a job, get married; are they going to live in Dubai or live in Lebanon or live in New York. And so they don't get terribly excited.
But then, you know, as on a U.S. campus, there may be university issues -- tuition, for instance, or almost anything that has to do with student life and welfare, whether the food in the cafeteria is lousy or good, that will get 2,000 or 3,000 students really quite upset. (Laughter.) And I think that's all perfectly normal.
My experience has been that even though the issues are different, the kind of political mood and political activism is not terribly different than what I remember from Columbia. (Laughter.)
MR. : Or Michigan!
BOLLINGER: I just have no comment on that at all!
THOMPSON: Our students are not very politically active, but that's understandable in a country which held its first elections only a few months ago. (Laughter.) And I think we also see some of the career-orientation that is more common on the American university campus now than it was when I was a university student.
As to faculty members, the thing that surprises the most about the United Arab Emirates is what an open, multicultural society it is. We have students from over 80 countries. Emiratie nationals are the largest single groups, and they are 20 percent. And in the United Arab Emirates, 50 percent of the population is Indian, a large percent is Pakistani, and every nationality on Earth is represented, an incredible variety. And of course, the faculty members who come to an institution like us are faculty members who want that kind of environment, and they find it very rewarding.
BOLLINGER: Thank you.
ARNOLD: The profile in terms of student activities and activism on the political side is probably somewhere between Beirut and Sharjah. (Laughter.) We have a small but dedicated group that are very politically active, but they tend not to be as linked and connected with former parties or factions outside of the university. Student elections are very hard fought. There's virtually 100 percent participation in student elections. Those issues and the kinds of issues that John alluded to do bring them off the benches.
The one formal protest or sit-in that we've had since I became president was over my radical proposal to change the graduation ceremony. Now, you know, Palestine, Iraq, none of those issues generated that kind of level of outrage but, you know, change the graduation ceremony. We do have a lot of community service and civic engagement activities. Our students did organize a day for Lebanon and a 33-day awareness campaign focused on Lebanon this past fall.
But at the level of protests and, you know, activism in terms of domestic politics, very limited.
BOLLINGER: David Arnold, Joseph Jabbra, Win Thompson, John Waterbury, you've really helped us to understand American universities in the Middle East.
Thank you. (Applause.)
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