Cnudde Helping to Launch Middle Eastern University

J.P. Goodwin

Political science professor Charles (Chuck) Cnudde, former provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs and current visiting fellow in the McCormack Institute for Public Affairs, is actively involved in constructing a new university in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi University will become the newest university in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Since September 11, a lot of Americans have asked themselves how they can rise above the petty bureaucratic issues of modern life and do something to help our country make this a better world,” said Cnudde. “My administrative experience here [UMass Boston] and at institutions such as Wisconsin, Madison; Texas, Austin; Michigan State and Florida State tells me that the place where I can contribute is to help spread educational opportunities and excellence internationally. Now I think it is especially important to help in friendly Islamic countries.”

Cnudde explained the UAE – a federation of seven independent emirates – is “a strong American ally which overlooks the strategic Persian Gulf shipping lanes that carry much of the world’s oil cargo.” It has the largest known oil reserves in the world and a standard of living comparable to Western European countries. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country’s customs, laws and practices.

“The UAE has a substantial infrastructure because of oil money,” said Cnudde. “This is a country where there is equality in educational opportunities for women. Women in this country don’t work, so they go to school. Over sixty-percent of students in college are women.”

According to Cnudde, there is no public money involved in the project at this point. The school is being funded by a group of educators, businessmen and civic leaders, many of whom were educated in the United States. Once the university becomes accredited, the government will provide the land.

Cnudde, the only American involved in the project, is helping to set up the academic component of the new college. He’s contributing to developing the university’s vision, mission, core values and objectives. “They need to set up programs, degree requirements, and graduation requirements,” he stated. He’ll also help in building a good relationship with the ministry of higher education.

“They’re treating me very well in terms of personal relations. They’ve made me part of the team,” noted Cnudde. “This is not a lucrative thing. I have to pay for my own living expenses, in a hotel in Al-Anin, a medium sized city away from the beach resorts,” he added. It takes him 18 hours to travel to Al-Anin. Six hours to London, six hours at the airport and six hours to the UAE.

Cnudde says he doesn’t agree with everything President Bush advocates, but the President made the point at the conclusion of his State of the Union Message that we should help friendly Islamic countries in response to recent events.

“From my point of view there is a direct relationship. Although they were intending to build it earlier, I didn’t get involved until after September 11,” Cnudde said.

Cnudde is hoping that he can make alliances between UMass Boston and the new university and that he’ll “be able to bring back from this experience important things for students here.”