July 28, 2007

President Skorton Testifies Before House Committee

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President David Skorton testified before U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology in Washington, D.C. yesterday, reading a shortened version of his prepared 22-page official testimony.
The committee is holding hearings on the effects of globalization on technology jobs in the U.S. Prof. Philip Altbach, education, Boston College, Georgia Tech Provost Gary Schuster and Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Public Policy and Management Mark Wessel promoted the importance of American universities having international presences along with Skorton.
Skorton suggested – as he has in previous public addresses – that colleges and universities across the U.S. should play a large role in trying to reduce global inequalities, with focus on research and teaching.
Cornell’s overseas campuses, particularly Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, were a focus of the presentation. The committee asked Skorton to explain why Cornell has established these campuses and what the anticipated effects of these campuses on science and technology will be on a global scale.
In 2001, Cornell, in partnership with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, established the first American medical school overseas in Qatar, a small country on the Arabian Gulf.
Although WCMC-Q mandates that up to 70 percent of each class be Qatari citizens, the college consistently hosts an array of students from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. There are more than 50 faculty members, and more than 150 students spread among the six classes. At the close of 2007-2008 academic year, the first class to graduate from WCMC-Q will receive their medical doctor degrees.
Skorton also discussed how Cornell’s U.S. campuses have changed in recent years to reflect a more globalized world.
Cornell has increased instruction in languages such as Arabic and Mandarin to meet growing demands, as well as offering new majors with focuses on these regions, Skorton said. Cornell also has programs in conjunction with Singapore, India, China and Tanzania and researches food and agriculture development in developing nations.
Responses from members of the House Committee were mixed, but several, such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), warned that American universities should not come to serve people outside of the U.S. more than Americans, according to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education.