IPDP Assists Educational Systems around the World

Posted: January 14, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

When Mason envisions its future, it sees opportunities for building strong alliances with other institutions, businesses and communities both nationally and internationally.

Mason’s International Postsecondary Development Program (IPDP) has been committed to this vision since its establishment in 2004. Its role is to provide institutions, communities and governments around the world with consulting, research, academic and connection services.

IPDP has two components. One is devoted to assisting universities that want to restructure all or part of their university system. The second component involves supporting developing areas around the globe that want to create International Community College Town Centers (ICCTC) to promote growth and modernization and provide opportunities for current students and graduates to join the modern workforce and develop leadership skills.

In 2004, Mason was awarded a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Exchange to assist the University of Montenegro (UoM) in southeastern Europe. The goal was to redesign and restructure the university’s departments of administration, finance and international relations to transition toward membership in the European Union.

Gail Kettlewell
Gail Kettlewell
Photo courtesy of Gail Kettlewell

“I have always had an interest in international work, but never had a specific opportunity to do it,” says Gail Kettlewell, IPDP director and research professor. “When I learned about the grant from the provost [Peter Stearns], I was very excited to be able to work with a university that came from the traditional style of Europe and Asia.”

Kettlewell and Mason team members spent three years transforming the UoM’s administrative, management and academic structures into a centralized and modernized system to make the university competitive with other universities throughout the world.

In 2005, an administrative team from UoM visited Mason during International Week to experience American university life. Mark Kidd, associate dean in Mason’s University Life, organized activities and events for the team. As part of its restructuring, UoM developed its own university life department.

Although the grant expired last September, Mason hopes to continue working with UoM in providing leadership to other universities in the area who have requested the same type of assistance to advance their institutions, according to Kettlewell.

IPDP is also involved in a partnership with Sierra Leone, a developing country in West Africa.The country’s government asked Kettlewell and her team of consultants to help develop an ICCTC that would build a new educational system to prepare adults for the workforce and leadership in their communities devastated by 10 years of civil war.

“I spend a lot of time reading strategic plans developed by governments who want to improve their economic status,” says Kettlewell. “While the plans are well researched, the citizens are often not prepared to do the work. The goal of the ICCTC is to educate the people with the skills needed before they are put to work.”

The ICCTC begins by developing a community college complex, and then, depending upon the needs of the community, collaborates with or develops centers that provide assistance in areas such as health and safety, technology, culture and small business development. Each of these areas needs the commitment and participation of existing businesses and agencies in the community.

IPDP is currently seeking grants to assist Balkan universities that also wish to restructure and develop better relations with business and industry.

For more information about IPDP, visit the web site or contact Kettlewell at gkettlewe@gmu.edu.

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