MSU, Morocco’s Université Internationale de Rabat continue to grow successful partnerships

Officials from Morocco’s Université Internationale de Rabat and Mississippi State University celebrate the continuation of their successful research and academic partnerships, as well as potential collaborations, during a recent visit by MSU personnel to Morocco. (Submitted photo)

Contact: James Carskadon

A banner celebrating MSU and UIR's partnership

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Building upon years of collaboration, Mississippi State University and Morocco’s Université Internationale de Rabat are continuing to develop new academic partnerships, resulting in new opportunities for faculty and students at both universities.

A recent delegation representing MSU’s Office of the Provost, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures visited Morocco to further develop this relationship between the two universities. The MSU delegation also was given the opportunity to meet with Morocco’s minister of culture and communication, Mohammed El Araj.

“MSU has a strong commitment to international engagement,” said Julie Jordan, MSU associate vice president for international programs and director of the International Institute. “Our seven-year relationship with UIR stands as a model for international partnerships. We are especially excited to expand the academic collaboration to include archeology, anthropology, and middle eastern cultures with UIR and Morocco’s Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, or INSAP. Morocco’s rich history and culture make it an exceptional location for our students to explore some of mankind’s earliest civilizations.”

A recent major archaeological discovery has created renewed emphasis on the field in Morocco. In 2017, what are believed to be the oldest homo sapien remains were discovered in the country. At over 300,000 years old, the remains are significantly older than any other known homo sapien remains. MSU is working with UIR and INSAP, Morocco’s national organization for teaching, training and research in archeology, to contribute expertise from MSU faculty members and provide new study abroad opportunities for students.

“UIR made the connection for us, so we’re working with them to develop a study abroad exercise in which the students spend a month working on digs and the rest doing cultural integration and language immersion,” said Peter Ryan, MSU associate provost for academic affairs and interim dean of the Graduate School.

The MSU delegation included Morocco native Hsain Ilahiane, head of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures Department, and department faculty members Jimmy Hardin and Shane Miller, both of whom have expertise in Middle Eastern cultures and prehistoric archaeology.

During the visit, MSU Political Science and Public Administration Department Head Eddie French and Assistant Professor Mike Potter met with UIR officials to discuss potential academic partnerships. In addition to the anthropology and political science partnerships, Ryan said the two universities are continuing to discuss potential collaborations in business, agriculture and education, among other fields.

MSU and UIR launched a program in 2015 that allows Moroccan students to study at Mississippi State to earn a diploma of engineering from UIR and a master’s degree from MSU. Approximately 60 students have come to MSU through the engineering program, and more than a dozen Moroccan students have stayed at MSU to enroll in a doctoral program. Since the academic program began, Morocco has become one of the top 10 countries sending students to MSU, allowing for increased cultural exchange between students at both universities.

In 2017, the MSU-UIR partnership received the Institute of International Education’s Andrew Heiskell Award for International Partnerships, a recognition of the top partnerships in international education.

“The economic development potential with working in that part of the world is huge, not only for our graduates, but also for research here at Mississippi State,” Ryan said. “We’ve really solidified the relationship between UIR and Mississippi State, and we’re glad to see their leaders have been extremely helpful and see the significance of this relationship. We’re poised to expand it.”

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