College opens two new programs in Middle East

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College administration announced this month that it will launch two new schools in the Middle East in the coming years, bringing its total number of schools in the region to three.
Middlebury launched a program in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2007. Students in that program were evacuated in late January in the face of growing unrest in the country. The two new programs are in Beer Sheva, Israel, and Amman, Jordan.
Once both new programs open — Jordan this fall, and Israel in the spring of 2012 — the college will run its C.V. Starr Middlebury Schools Abroad in 36 cities, spread across 15 countries.
The administration expects to enroll between 10 and 15 students per semester, both from the college and from other institutions, in each program.
Jeff Cason, the college’s dean of international programs, said this expansion reflects an eight-year push to focus more on the Middle East, both within the school’s academics and in its programs abroad.
“This responds to (both) student demand and a desire on the part of the faculty and administration to cover this important part of the world,” said Cason in an email on Friday.
The Israel program also will be Middlebury’s first Hebrew study abroad program, marking a landmark for the college.
“It … gives Middlebury a study abroad program in all the languages we teach at the college, both during the academic year and at the language schools,” said Cason.
In order to accommodate the growing number of administrative tasks surrounding the programs, Cason said the college has added a staff position in its international programs office.
He also said the administration is also discussing the possibility of expanding to sub-Saharan Africa and India, and will be exploring these options during this and the coming academic year.
But while the office discusses expansion, Cason is also closely following the political situation in Alexandria, hoping to reopen that program.
“Opening up again in the fall will depend on the safety/security situation as well as the state of organization of our university partner, which is currently undergoing significant change,” he said.
Cason said the administration would make a decision about whether or not to run the program by early summer.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at andreas@addisonindependent.com.

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