Drake University’s president is in Turkey to talk about developing universities in Muslim countries. David Maxwell is one of just 25 university leaders from around the world who are participating in the summit.
Maxwell says private universities have a long tradition of independence in this country which dates all the back to the 17th century. “Universities — and private universities in particular — are a major and vital institution in a democratic society,” Maxwell says. “In many other countries of the world and certainly in the countries from which these other folks will be coming from — the Mid-East, Pakistan, Malasia, Indonesia — the tradition is much more universities that are under government control and then, clearly, under kinds of constraints that may minimize their effectiveness.”
Maxwell says it’ll be a “working meeting” to help an “emerging movement of private universities” in the countries. In addition, Maxwell says the meeting will give him an opportunity to connect with institutions in parts of the world that are truly foreign to most Americans.
Maxwell says the history of the education initiatives that came out of the Cold War — things like the Fulbright Act which sends American professors to teach in other countries — shows higher education connections have been a “productive and powerful instrument in connecting cultures and lessening tensions.”
Maxwell also hopes to make connections with institutions abroad that will create opportunities for academic exchanges between students and faculty from Drake and the overseas universities. Maxwell says there are a “significant” population of Muslim students at Drake. “They’re very much part of our campus culture and thriving,” Maxwell says. He hopes to meet with this group of students when he returns to talk about his experience at the summit.
Before Maxwell became Drake’s president in 1999, he was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington, D.C., for six years. Maxwell has been a leader of several different committees studying international education, and he’ll be at the meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, through December 12th. The meeting started today (December 8th).