Texas A&M University made it official Wednesday: a new branch campus will be opening in Israel.
Texas Governor Rick Perry and A&M System Chancellor John Sharp were part of an announcement in the Middle Eastern nation to mark the creation of the Texas A&M University at Nazareth-Peace Campus, which A&M says will have Jewish, Arab and international students and faculty.
“This is a proud accomplishment that has been years in the making” Sharp said in a statement. “We are absolutely dedicated to making this one of the finest international universities in the world and open to all.”
The university notes the entirety of the bill for constructing this campus will be footed through private donations. Once built and opened, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs will eventually be available in a number of disciplines, though none were specifically mentioned in the announcement Wednesday.
A&M already has a pair of branch campuses: one in Galveston, the other in Qatar. Record enrollment is being seen in Galveston (Click here for more), with 2,177 students this semester. A&M notes on its website that the Qatar campus has around 350 engineering students.
”Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition,” Governor Perry said in the same statement. “That’s reflected in the goals we’ve established for this university. We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserving peace and building understanding between cultures. We want to see students and instructors from a diverse array of nationalities, faiths and backgrounds within its classrooms, each student learning more about the world and what bright possibilities lie ahead for all of us.”
Israel President Shimon Peres called Wednesday "a day of celebration" and said A&M was "one of the world's leading universities." The announcement of the Nazareth-Peace campus was held at his home.
“Education in a setting that accepts everyone equally is an essential tool for internal and regional peace," Peres said in the statement. "I am certain that this splendid institution will have the power to enhance the vision of peace and equality, and the founding of this institution is a giant step in that direction. I wish to congratulate all of our partners, especially our partners from Texas A&M, for taking part in this important vision."
A&M notes the System and the Council for Higher Education reached an agreement in principle on the Nazareth campus on October 11.
Nazareth, noted in the Bible as the childhood home of Jesus Christ, has about 70 percent of its population as Arabs, according to the country's statistics bureau. It is the largest Arab city in the nation.