In late March President Jabbra, along with his fellow university presidents, Peter Dorman of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Lisa Anderson of the American University in Cairo (AUC), traveled to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for meetings with members of Congress and officials at the U.S. Departments of State and Education.
The Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), a leadership organization representing American institutions of higher education overseas, is currently headed by Jabbra. With the assistance of Jay Ghazal, LAU’s government relations consultant in Washington, the contingent of presidents made their case for the increased importance of American higher education in the changing Middle East.
“It is vitally important for legislators and government officials in the United States to understand that AAICU institutions are American universities and colleges in every way possible,” said Jabbra. “The work that we do helps to represent the best of what America has to offer—the gold standard of higher education—all over the world and we want to make sure that we are heard.”
The presidents met with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as other members of Congress who hold pivotal seats on relevant committees. The team also met with Tamra Halmrast-Sanchez, the new director of USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program, an important funder of many American institution operating abroad, as well as Jon C. Brause, Deputy Assistant Administrator with the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, another key agency for AAICU colleges and universities.
“The importance of getting to Washington and making the case for the work that our institutions are doing in the Middle East to these key individuals cannot be overstated,” said Ghazal. “It means a lot to be able to sit with important members of Congress and the government and let them know face-to-face how vital our work is.”
Founded in 1971, AAICU member institutions educate thousands of students across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and also offer opportunities for American students to receive valuable cross-cultural experiences through education abroad. Like LAU, all AAICU institutions have strong roots in their respective host countries and typically enjoy wide recognition around the world.
For more information about AAICU visit www.aaicu.org