Levin forges new ties in Middle East

Yale President Richard Levin and Secretary Linda Lorimer returned this week from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, where they and other administrators explored possibilities for new educational partnerships — particularly in the arts — with the Middle Eastern country.

The delegation’s trip, which took the Yale officials to the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, followed a five-country tour of the Middle East that Lorimer took last year. The meetings with officials from several government ministries focused primarily on student recruitment from the region — there are currently no Yalies from the U.A.E. — and future projects in the arts. Though largely exploratory, the meetings were productive, Levin said.

“The Middle East is a place that is somewhat underrepresented in our student body,” he said. “I was impressed with the quality of the government leaders there. They are very forward-looking.”

Deputy Provost for the Arts Barbara Shailor, School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern, School of Music Dean Robert Blocker and Deputy Dean of the School of Drama Victoria Nolan accompanied Levin and Lorimer on the trip.

Potential fronts for collaboration include a satellite campus for the School of Architecture, Stern said. The exchange may entail architecture education directed at training for undergraduate and pre-college students, he said.

“We hope that if Yale is able to enter into a successful collaboration with the government of Abu Dhabi that architecture education would be part of a broader agenda in the arts,” Stern said. “We think we can make a stupendous contribution which will not only benefit Abu Dhabians, but also our students and faculty who will deepen their involvement and experience with this incredibly important part of the world.”

With similar stated goals in mind, University officials have made a habit of visiting a different country every year. In recent years, Levin and other officials have traveled to China, India, Japan and South Korea. This year’s destination was selected due to its image as a promising nation, Lorimer said.

“The U.A.E. has been very ambitious about trying to have discussions with some of the world’s best institutions,” she said. “The President’s Council on International Activities suggested that it will be an area that is dynamic and growing and that it has a positive cadre of young leaders that would be looking forward for innovation in the years ahead.”

The officials held a meeting with members of a foundation that financially supports students from the U.A.E. who wish to study abroad and explored ways to attract more of these students to Yale, Levin said. Levin was also interviewed by the major newspaper and television network Al Arabiya.

Lorimer met with the minister of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January.

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