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Ambassador urges support for Afghanistan

SaidThe Afghanistan ambassador to the United States likes the choice of The Kite Runner for OneBook, UT Arlington's first common reading experience.

The book, which Ambassador Said Jawad said has been translated into the languages of 40 countries, is "a good soul-searching book for Afghans," as well as an opportunity for people worldwide to see his country as more than "refugees, wars and bombs."

Jawad, who spoke on campus in September at the invitation of the OneBook committee, said America and 34 other countries have soldiers in Afghanistan, helping sustain the nation's attempts at democracy. He told of his hospital visit with an American soldier who was riding on patrol in a busy Kandahar marketplace when an insurgent threw a bomb into the military vehicle. The soldier chose to push the bomb under his seat rather than throw it into the street. When the bomb exploded, he lost both legs.

"The Afghan people are deeply grateful for the sacrifices of your soldiers," Jawad said.

He said that democracy has a strong chance in Afghanistan but that the country suffers a shortage of human capital and lacks educational resources. He encourages institutions, and even individuals, to provide educational opportunities through scholarships, tuition waivers and by bringing Afghan students to study in the United States.

"If you bring one young woman from a village in Afghanistan to get an education, you will not only change her life, you will help change the fate of the country," he said.

The ambassador said Afghanistan needs help in building an infrastructure to support economic growth and the basic services a democracy should provide.

The country is slightly smaller than Texas, but its population is greater by almost 10,000, according to a comparison chart created by the UT Arlington Library as a OneBook resource. Texas has more than 79,000 miles of paved roadways; Afghanistan has 5,115 miles. Texas has 392 public airports; Afghanistan has 46 paved and unpaved runways.

Leader calls for more college graduates

LarryFormer UT Austin President Larry Faulkner says higher education is composed of several types of institutions, and the challenge is to make sure that all elements are in good working order and in the right relationship.

Speaking at the inaugural UT Arlington-UT Dallas Presidential Lecture Series in September, Dr. Faulkner, now president of the Houston Endowment, praised the new interaction between the universities.

"Congratulations to two fine educational institutions for concentrating on ways they can cooperate to get even better," he said.

He noted that community colleges educate half of all students in Texas who enter higher education, students with a variety of goals, from job training to preparing for additional college education. Next, there are the 37 or 38 regional/state institutions focused on teaching within a certain geographic area.

"We need more Texans with bachelor's degrees," he said, "and much of the capacity to achieve that is in the regional/state universities."

About 20 percent of students choose private colleges or universities, Faulkner said, to meet interests that cannot be served by a public college, like religion. Then there are the "flagships," or what he defines as "nationally competitive research institutions that draw faculty from the top ranks of talent nationally and internationally, people important to the evolution of their fields."

Around 150 of these schools operate across the nation, and it's a circle that can be enlarged.

California has at least six. Texas has three—UT Austin, Texas A&M University and Rice University—and needs more, he said. But where?

Major research institutions flower in fertile land, Faulkner said, and often in the glide path of a major airport. He believes Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio all have that potential.

— Sue Stevens

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