INDIANAPOLIS – In a public ceremony at the April 2013 International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and King Saud University President Badran Al-Omar signed documents formally launching a collaboration between the two universities.
Early in 2012, a delegation from the College of Dentistry at King Saud University, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading universities, visited Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to explore a collaboration with the IU School of Dentistry. They had two primary goals in mind: create a joint Ph.D. program between the two schools and provide a pathway by which junior and aspiring faculty at King Saud University could attend IU specialty clinical programs as visiting fellows before applying for acceptance into one of the programs.
Key to these discussions were, from King Saud, Adel Al-Hadlaq, vice dean for academic affairs, and Ibrahim Al-Harkan, dean of graduate studies; and, from IU, Michael Kowolik, associate dean for graduate education and global engagement, and Richard Gregory, director of student research and the Ph.D. program at IU School of Dentistry.
With two advanced degrees from IU School of Dentistry, Nawaf Yousef Labban of Saudi Arabia served as a catalyst in forging the new relationship.
A formal invitation from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education for IU to participate in its April higher education conference presented the ideal opportunity for a reciprocal visit to King Saud University to move the collaboration toward a joint Ph.D. forward.
According to Kowolik, “The initiative Dr. Labban has developed provides the IU School of Dentistry with a platform and impetus for launch of a unique collaboration with a Saudi institution of prestigious standing. We hope that we are paving the way for other IUPUI and IU schools and programs to follow.”