AUGUSTA, Maine — Less than two years after entering into a formal agreement with the American School of Tangier, the University of New England will inaugurate its newest campus in Tangier, Morocco, on April 22, as the only American higher education institution in this thriving North African country.
UNE President Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., hails the new campus, stating it is “reflective of UNE’s commitment to advance the internationalization of higher education, create truly global citizens, and open new windows of opportunity not only for UNE students, but also the entire state of Maine.”
The university has invited dignitaries and representatives from Morocco, the city of Tangier, UNE’s global education partners, and the state of Maine. Recently appointed US Ambassador to Morocco Dwight L. Bush, Sr., is also expected to attend. Among Maine’s expected attendees are Gov. Paul LePage and Senior Education Policy Adviser Tom Desjardins. The UNE delegation includes Pres. Ripich, Provost Jim Koelbl, Vice President of Global Affairs Anouar Majid, Ph.D., and officers of the Board of Trustees.
UNE welcomed its first 23 students to the Tangier campus on January 10th, 2014. The students’ inaugural semester balances language and cultural enrichment courses with laboratory sciences that enable them to stay on track in their academic majors. Faculty members include UNE and Moroccan scholars who teach physics and chemistry, as well as basic Arabic and courses about Moroccan history and society.
The UNE students received Global Education scholarships funded by donor Josephine “Dodie” Detmer, which paid for their round-trip airfare to the new campus. They have quickly immersed themselves in the culture and are actively exploring the region through trips to European and Moroccan cities like Budapest, Amsterdam, Rome, Brussels, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh.
Tangier is experiencing extraordinary economic growth and cultural development. Its bustling deep-water TangerMed cargo port is an active commerce and trade center located directly on the Strait of Gibraltar, at the crossing of two major maritime routes. It is one of the largest ports on the Mediterranean Sea, connecting North Africa with the global import/export market.
“As one of the most important free trade zones in the world, Morocco has aggressively developed its infrastructure to become a gateway to North Africa and the European Union,” said Gov. LePage, in a press release. “There are excellent opportunities for Maine companies to expand foreign investment in our state. To keep creating jobs here at home, we are doing everything we can to reach new customers for Maine-made products abroad. I applaud President Ripich and her team for advancing higher education to the new Moroccan campus, which creates an educational partnership that will expand educational opportunities for UNE students and provide a Maine presence in the global trade economy.”
UNE’s Majid, a native of Tangier, said in the press release, “Tangier has instituted numerous infrastructure and economic improvements in recent years. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has just launched major economic and social projects aiming at making the historic city the most dynamic metropolis in the southern shore of the Mediterranean within five years. UNE couldn’t have chosen a better location to build its first campus overseas.”