New UCF, Moroccan University Partnership to Develop Exchange Programs

At Thursday’s signing ceremony: Morocco’s Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoul, who is her country’s ambassador to the United States; Al Akhawayn University President Driss Ouaouicha; UCF President Dale Whittaker, and UCF Provost Elizabeth Dooley. (Photo by Nicholas Leyva)

The international partnership will promote faculty exchanges, joint classes, research and other activities.


By Gene Kruckemyer

UCF and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday creating an international partnership to promote faculty exchanges, joint classes, research and other activities.

The agreement was signed by UCF President Dale Whittaker and AUI President Driss Ouaouicha at the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center before a contingent of visiting dignitaries from Morocco, including Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoul, who is Morocco’s ambassador to the United States, and 15 traveling Moroccan journalists covering the story.

“AUI and UCF have much to gain by working together, particularly by offering our students and faculty an amazing opportunity to build sustainable relationships,” said UCF Provost Elizabeth Dooley.

The agreement has been in the works about a year since UCF co-sponsored a conference in Casablanca, Morocco, on water, energy and food security. Afterward, the UCF contingent visited the AUI campus in the town of Ifrane.

That visit to Morocco was followed up by another joint conference at UCF sponsored by the two institutions.

Thursday’s memorandum identified several areas of cooperation, particularly in political science and other social sciences, said David T. Dumke, director of UCF’s Middle East and South Asia Initiatives and the Prince Mohammad bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research & Studies.

“AUI is a premier university (and) Morocco is a strategic partner of the U.S.,” Dumke said. “The Central Florida Moroccan American Community is well established and growing. So we felt it was a good fit — and AUI is a great partner.”

The university was founded in 1995 by King Hassan II of Morocco with support from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. It was developed on the model of higher education in the United States, and all the classes are taught in English. Enrollment at the university is about 2,200.

Dumke said AUI has an impressive, safe campus and a great Arabic language program — making it a good destination for study-abroad programs.

“AUI’s faculty, many of whom are American or American educated, are also eager to work with international partners,” he said.

Peter Jacques, a UCF political science professor, will present a lecture at AUI next month. He is working on a food-security research project in Morocco.

The princess said the signing of the agreement bears witness to a growing trend of more opportunities between the two countries and for the students at both institutions.

“I have no doubt they will play a leading role as bridge builders between our two countries,” she said.

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