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University of Iowa News Release

June 19, 2003

UI WiderNet Project To Host 20 African University Officials June 23-July 4

The University of Iowa's WiderNet Project will host 20 high-ranking Nigerian and Ghanaian university administrators from June 23 to July 4 for a workshop focusing on computers and networks in higher education.

The two-week workshop is part of a multiple-year project designed to assist African university administrators with a variety of issues they face as they digitize their campuses. The workshop will provide technical, financial and organizational coaching for these decision makers.

"The main goals of the decision-makers tour are to immerse our Nigerian colleagues in the technology that is used in modern universities and for them to meet colleagues and create linkages between our universities," said Cliff Missen, co-director of the WiderNet Project.

Dozens of University of Iowa experts and professionals will host discussions, seminars and hands-on demonstrations of the campus ICT infrastructure. Participants will hear from consultants and fund-raising experts as well as visit cutting-edge facilities at the UI and Kirkwood Community College.

Last September, 24 African administrators participated in the first decision-makers workshop. In addition to learning about computers, last year's group attended an Iowa Hawkeye football game, shopped at the Tanger Outlet Center in Williamsburg and drove through Amish country in Kalona. This year, the group plans to attend a Cedar Rapids Kernels game.

"Last year's tour was a great success," said Missen. "This year, we're hoping for more of the same, but a little bit better."

During their stay next week, the African administrators will be hosted by local Iowa City families. Jan Locher and her family hosted guests from Nigeria last year and are going to host again this year because of the positive experience.

"Everyone had a wonderful time hosting last year," Locher said. "We learned a great deal from our guests about Nigeria, and we also had fun finding out how alike our families were."

More information about the workshop, including dates, times, locations and participants can be found at:

Photos and information from last year's decision maker's workshop can be found at:

The WiderNet Project is an independent nonprofit organization that focuses on the improvement of educational communication systems in Africa by providing faculty and students with access to computers, email and the Internet. Composed of a staff experienced with work in Africa, international developmental studies, and technology, The WiderNet Project is building a digital bridge between The University of Iowa and African universities.

The WiderNet Project is part of University of Iowa International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services that serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

The WiderNet Project is funded by the University of Iowa, the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Nigerian National Universities Commission. Additional funding for some participants has been provided by the Carnegie Corporation.

More information about the WiderNet Project can be found at its web site WiderNet is currently collecting used computer and network equipment for use in Nigerian universities. For information on how to make donations, visit the web site, or contact WiderNet at 319-335-2200.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Andrea M. Murphy, 319-335-2200. Writer: Andrea Murphy