OSU, Spears School welcome professors
from Iraq’s Basrah University

by Terry Tush 
(October 19, 2011 at 11:16 am)

Basra professors and Spears School Dean Larry Crosby
Three faculty members from Basrah University in Iraq arrived in Oklahoma on Oct. 16 to explore Oklahoma State University and familiarize themselves with American curriculum and western teaching styles. They will be staying through Oct. 27.

The Iraqi faculty members – Abdul-Khaliq Y. Zaier Al-Badran, Abdulzahra Khu Raheem Alaliawi, and Majid Abdulnabi Alwan Al-Tameemi – came to OSU as part of a $1 million grant OSU and Basrah University received from the U.S. Department of State’s Iraqi Linkage Program.

Throughout the next three years, numerous Basrah University faculty members will work closely with Oklahoma State faculty from the School of Chemical Engineering, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Finance to review Basrah University’s current curriculum and to help the Iraqi university develop a more student-centered, interactive pedagogy.

“We are incredibly honored to host this program,” said John Polonchek, head of the Department of Finance in OSU’s Spears School of Business and co-principal investigator for the grant project. “This is just the first group we’ll be hosting. In the next three years, we expect additional visits by other faculty cohorts.”

Polonchek said OSU was selected for the grant because the U.S. Department of State wanted to work with a university that was able to deliver quality information in multiple programs.

“Basrah is in the southern portion of Iraq,” Polonchek said. “It’s basically the functional equivalent of Houston, and it’s located in a major oil area. That’s why they were very much interested in petroleum engineering, computer engineering and finance. While the Iraqi faculty members are here, we’ll do certain things as a group, but then each of the individual departments will meet with the individuals they’re working with from Iraq.”

Polonchek said they had several unique opportunities planned for Al-Badran, the finance professor visiting from Basrah University. Throughout his 12-day stay in Oklahoma,
Al-Badran will get to tour OSU’s campuses and several major financial institutions in Oklahoma; travel to Dallas to see the Dallas Museum of Art and the JFK Memorial; meet with Spears School Dean Larry Crosby, OSU Provost Robert Sternberg and OSU President Burns Hargis; attend several cultural events on OSU’s campus; and speak at Stillwater High School about Iraq. In addition, Al-Badran will get to meet OSU’s finance department and sit in on several classes and training sessions to observe western curriculum and teaching styles in person.

Ramesh Rao, professor of finance in the Spears School and Polonchek’s co-principal investigator for the project, said about half the faculty members in the Spears School’s finance department have been involved in organizing this visit.

“While they’re here, everybody in our department will be involved,” Polonchek said. “Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity for a great many people to interact with them. This project is incredibly important to us, and we’re excited about moving forward with it.”

For additional information about the Iraqi Linkage Program, call 405-744-5199 or send an email to finance@okstate.edu.