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~Wellesley Hosts Asian University for Women Conference:
International Leaders to Discuss Plans for New University~

For immediate release:
Oct. 28, 2002

Mary Ann Hill,

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 this gathering."

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 institution."

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

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


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