George Blandford, chair of UK’s civil engineering department, and Gary Gaffield, assistant provost for international partnerships, led workshops for the Iraq University Administration Support Program’s (UASP) University Management Training Course in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
UASP assists academic leaders by strengthening their foundations in university administration. This program fosters the development of higher education management capacity in the seven university partnerships that participate in the University Linkages Program (ULP), laying the groundwork for sustainable development in Iraq.
Blandford led workshops about assessment and accreditation, while Gaffield led the sessions on leadership, strategic planning and institutional relations/advancement.
“UK is becoming recognized for its understanding of not only the conditions of higher education in Iraq, but also the unusual demands placed on colleges and universities in post-conflict societies in general and in countries struggling with regional, ethnic, cultural, economic, and sectarian divisions,” Gaffield said. “UK is increasingly being sought as a partner by NGOs because of our experience and expertise in these regions.”
There are several recent examples of UK’s growing reputation as a leader in helping post-conflict societies rebuild civil society:
“George Blandford has become a leader in helping rebuild Iraq’s higher education capacity,” Gaffield said. “Through his work with Kufa University’s civil engineering department, he has enabled Kufa University to become a leader in quality assurance in Iraq.”
Blandford says he would like to be a part of creating opportunity in post-conflict areas. “I hope to continue UK’s relationship with Kufa University, open opportunities to link with other universities in Iraq and bring more Iraqi students to UK. More than 30 graduate students from Iraq are conducting their research at UK. These students bring intelligence and a strong work ethic to UK’s campus.”
UASP is administrated by IREX, an international nonprofit organization that provides thought leadership and innovative programs to enable local individuals and institutions to build key elements of a vibrant society: quality education, independent media, and strong communities. To strengthen these sectors, IREX’s program activities also include a focus on conflict resolution, technology for development, gender, and youth.