WELLESLEY, Mass. - Public and private sector leaders from
Asia, Europe, and North America will gather at Wellesley
College next week to help organizers of the Asian
University for Women (AUW) develop plans for this innovative
educational institution. Set to open in 2005, AUW will be
a residential liberal arts university, with extensive professional
training programs, for women from Asia, with a special emphasis
on educating women from diverse social, economic, and religious
backgrounds. The planning conference will take place November
3-4 at Wellesley College.
"Our hope is that the conference will create a synergy
of ideas and an ongoing network on behalf of AUW, an initiative
that promises to make a difference in the lives of women
in Asia and beyond," said Diana Chapman Walsh, Wellesley
College president and a member of the Board of Directors
of the AUW Support Foundation. "As an international leader
in women's education, Wellesley College is pleased to host
A select group of academics, government officials, policy
experts, expert consultants in finance, campus architecture,
and planning, and philanthropists from South and Southeast
Asia, North America, and Europe will participate in the
conference, providing valuable feedback to AUW planners.
Lone Dybkjaer, former First Lady of Denmark and now Member
of the European Parliament, called the conference "a literary
milestone in the efforts to establish the Asian University
for Women." Ms Dybkjaer, who co-chairs the International
Support Committee for AUW with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
of Bangladesh, noted, "we hope the conference will enable
us to improve the ideas we have developed so far and galvanize
support for actualizing the promise of this much hoped for
Reema Nanavaty, General Secretary of the Self Employed
Women's Association in India and one of the conference's
keynote speakers, commented, "The ideas of AUW cannot be
more timely in the history of women nor could the location
be more suitable. The conference will attract leaders from
far and near to intensely listen to the universal struggles
of women in Asia and nurture their worlds."
"A great many talented professors, academic administrators
and other professionals have been preparing preliminary
plans for AUW; this conference will provide a forum for
their counterparts from Asia and other parts of the world
to participate in that planning," explained Stephen J. Friedman,
chairman of the AUW Support Foundation and senior partner
at Debevoise & Plimpton. "We are very enthusiastic about
the tremendous reservoir of expertise and experience that
will be represented at this conference and the results that
will inevitably flow from it."
To be located on land donated by the Government of Bangladesh,
AUW will have a maximum enrollment of 2,000 students from
across Asia. Participants in the early AUW planning process
have sought broad-based support for their goal of raising
access to quality higher education for women in the region.
Dr. M. Osman Farruk, a former World Bank economist who
now serves as Bangladesh's Minister of Education explained
that "Bangladesh is proud to be a part of this regional
initiative. Its success cannot only profoundly affect women's
education in the region but also could help transform the
existing systems of higher education through demonstration
of innovative practices. AUW also will help build a sense
of solidarity and common struggle across the Asian region."
"We are building a university that is international in
scope but rooted in the Asian context, where women of outstanding
ability and promise can prepare themselves to make a difference
in their worlds," noted Fran Volkmann, The Israel/Siipola
Professor, Emeritus, Smith College and Chair of the AUW
Curriculum Task Force.
Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York, who is leading
a Congressional initiative in support of AUW, said in a
welcome letter to conference participants, "The doors of
opportunity are greatly restricted to most Asian women because
of inadequate public education. Allowing women to apply
their tremendous potential to their countries' social, political,
and economic challenges will help foster more progressive
and democratic societies throughout the Asian continent."
The planning conference will run from 10:30 a.m. Sunday,
November 3, until 4:30 p.m. Monday, November 4, in The Wellesley
College Club. More information on AUW can be found at www.asianuniversity.org.
Founded in 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in
liberal arts and the education of women for more than 125
years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home
to 2,300 undergraduate students.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Interviews with AUW planners and conference
participants are available mid-day Monday, November 4. To
arrange an interview, please contact the Wellesley College
Office for Public Information at 781-283-2376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.