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The president of Salahaddin University in the Kurdish region of Iraq will be on the campus of Old Dominion University July 25 to sign an International Memorandum of Understanding providing the framework for an exchange of students and faculty between the two institutions.

The exchange is the product of 18 months of work by an ODU nuclear physicist, Moskov Amarian, who is an Armenian Kurd. It is designed to bolster educational opportunities in a part of Iraq where suppression by Saddam Hussein and the unrest associated with the current war has made it difficult for universities to operate.

Mohammad Sadik, president of Salahaddin, will visit Norfolk July 24-26 and will be cosigner of the IMOU along with the Old Dominion president, Roseann Runte.

The IMOU will allow exchanges involving all academic areas, but Amarian readily admits that his chief goal is to attract physics graduate students from Iraq to study at ODU and do research, as Amarian does, at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in nearby Newport News.

Gail Dodge, chair of the ODU physics department, said no students from ODU will study in Iraq in the immediate future because of safety concerns. But if circumstances allow, she said, the exchange could expand to include reciprocal exchange visits, as well as audio-visual transmission of courses by satellite. ODU has one of the nation's most sophisticated distance learning programs.

"We are very pleased about the opportunity to build a partnership between Salahaddin and Old Dominion," said Dodge. "Professor Amarian has done a wonderful job developing this relationship through his contacts with president Sadik. Both universities should benefit greatly and we owe a lot of thanks to Moskov for making this possible."

Amarian was a nuclear scientist in the old Soviet Union, and he worked at research facilities in Europe before joining the ODU Experimental Nuclear Physics Group in 2004. The associate professor of physics is known on campus for his resemblance to another nuclear physicist, Albert Einstein.

This article was posted on: July 17, 2006

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