Carolina Considers A Mideast Satellite
trip (paid for
by the emir's
to Qatar in
Smaller then Connecticut, rich in oil and natural gas, and deeply craving American-style higher education, the Persian Gulf country of Qatar
has people scrambling for their atlases from South
Building to the Kenan-Flagler Business School.
An invitation from a foun-
dation created by the emir of
Still others suspect dollar signs are the trellis upon
which Tar Heel ivy would grow in what Qatari offi-
cials are calling Education City.
Fifty-one faculty, administrators and trustees took a
fact-finding trip (paid for by the enur's foundation) to
the country in November. Ofthe 42 who responded
to a survey, more than two-thirds came back strongly
in favor of moving ahead with the deal. Others were
less certain, but no one was decidedly against it. At
Kenan-Flagler, which would be the focal point ofthe
venture, a sinUlar survey that drew 305 faculty
responses revealed a near-even split: 29 percent said
"definitely not" and 26 percent "definitely yes."
The man with the ultimate decision, Chancellor
James Moeser, insisted he was undecided, weighing a
tantalizing offer against what he acknowledged were
significant risks. But he told students at a November
forum that Carolina cannot be great by being just a
great American school.
Negotiations between the University and Qatari
officials appear to have gotten more complicated by the
end of the year. After The News & Observer of Raleigh
obtained documents related to the talks, the newspaper
reported that Carolina had asked the Qatar Foundation
for Education, Science and Community Development,
the sponsoring organization in Qatar, for a one-time
gift of $35 million to pursue the business degree pro-
gram. The paper reported that the foundation's Wash-
ington lawyers countered with a $10 million offer.
Although University administrators declined to
talk about specific dollar figures, the newspaper
reported that the annual budget for the program was
set at $28 million, much of it for elaborate compensa-
tion packages for faculty structured like those given
to American corporate executives working overseas.
Moeser said in December that the deal rests in
part on Qatar funding the entire program and that
"additional resources come to Carolina to strengthen
academic programs in Chapel Hill." He has promised
any money sent home would be put into academics.
Qatar, an independent enlirate, is believed to be
moving rapidly toward democracy with an elected par-
lian"lent. UNC officials consider it the most progressive
country in the Gulfregion. Religious freedom and
women's equality, while not on a par with the United
States, are not considered significant problems. But
Qatar's leaders are convinced they don't have the intel-
lectual resources to build a first-class education system
from within, and they prefer to keep young minds at
home rather than send them abroad for schooling.
Ifmoney buys smarts, the Qataris apparently can go
for the Rolls Royce. Cornell University, which has
agreed to open a branch ofits medical school there, is
believed to be receiving $750 nUllion over 11 years.
Virginia Commonwealth University opened a graphics
and fashion arts program there four years ago.
jal7uary l F e b,uary 2002