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University Graduate School

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

IU officials travel to Liberia in support of university partnership

Nov. 25, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University is moving forward with plans to provide assistance to the University of Liberia after a recent visit by IU officials to the West African nation.

James Wimbush, dean of the University Graduate School and professor of business administration in the Kelley School of Business, said the needs-assessment visit showed Liberia and the University of Liberia to still be suffering the aftereffects of a lengthy civil war that ended in 2003.


"Fortunately, we see many ways in which we can help," he said.

Also making the Nov. 9-14 trip to Liberia from IU were Grover Browning, director of Fiber Optic Network Operations, University Information Technology Services; Charles Reafsnyder, associate vice president for international research and development; and Verlon Stone, coordinator of the Liberian Collections Project. They met with high-level officials, including Liberia's president, minister of education, minister of health, minister of foreign affairs, ambassador to the United Nations and ambassador to Nigeria, and with students, faculty and representatives of U.S. and international agencies.

They were accompanied by Emmet Dennis, an IU alumnus who was named president of the University of Liberia while they were in the country. They also met with Wvannie Scott McDonald, CEO and administrator of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia, and an Indiana University School of Nursing doctoral graduate.

Indiana University, in partnership with Virginia Tech and Rutgers universities, is engaged in several initiatives to secure assistance for the University of Liberia from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other public and private-sector entities. A top priority, Wimbush said, could be to provide technical assistance in laying fiber optic cable to link the University of Liberia's three campuses and to connect Liberia to the north and south along the west coast of Africa.

"This step is crucial because, without reliable Internet access, it will be difficult to provide faculty development, textbook resources, student training and development, and many other critical needs related to information technology," he said.

Indiana University has had a relationship with Liberia dating from research done in the 1930s. IU scholars Ruth and Verlon Stone, Claude Clegg and A.B. Assensoh have worked in and published books and articles on Liberia. Amos Sawyer, former interim president of Liberia, is a research scholar with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at IU.

IU awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in May 2008 to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected president of any country in Africa.