Monday, March 9, 2009

FAMU Hosts Meeting with Head of Government for the Island of St. Maarten to Strengthen Memorandum of Agreement

Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams, head of Government of Dutch for the island of St. Maarten, wants to strengthen the existing memorandum of understanding between Florida A&M University and St. Maarten. She wants to increase St. Maarten’s student enrollment, student and faculty exchange opportunities, research collaborations, capacity building and economic development.

FAMU’s Office of International Education and Development Interim Director Joseph V. Jones conducted the meeting.

“This meeting was to first celebrate and fortify an agreement,” said Jones. “Second, we want to strengthen our partnership, which allow students to come to FAMU.”

The university in St. Maarten only offers an associate degree. However, the local university does have some partnerships with other universities, which allow students to receive a bachelor’s degree.

“Currently we are looking to help develop St. Maarten’s education capability,” said Jones. “Our goal is to advance their education offerings.”

The island of St. Maarten is part French and part Dutch. The larger portion that is owned by the Dutch is moving to become an independent country within the next two years. To assist St. Maarten in their development, FAMU will provide professional, government and business development training. FAMU wants to send some of its faculty to St. Maarten to train their faculty. Also, allow some of St. Maarten faculty members to come to FAMU and receive training within its facilities.

“This would give advance training and will help move them along in offering master’s and Ph.D. degrees,” said Jones. “This is a long-term-goal.”

FAMU is looking to focus on health, education and business initiatives with St. Maarten.

FAMU’s deans and assistant deans had the opportunity to express their appreciation of St. Maarten students.

“Caribbean students are some of the best and brightest among the business school,” said Lydia McKinley-Floyd, Ph.D., dean of School of Business and Industry. “We look for diversity and culture diversity is needed.”

Commissioner Wescot-Williams was pleased to hear from each college representative as they extended their support in continuing the agreement that has been established with FAMU.

“I am very satisfied that the departments see the need of expansion,” said Commissioner Wescot-Williams.

The Commissioner presented several awards to outstanding faculty members and a FAMU student. Among the recipients was Joseph V. Jones; FAMU’s St. Maarten students’ campus mother, Ada P. Burnette, Ph.D.; McKinley-Floyd; and Jomar Floyd, 22, a senior healthcare student from Orlando, Fla.

The Head of Study Financing of the St. Maarten Department of Education Calvin Mardembrough accompanied Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams.

“This was a very successful trip,” said Mardembrough. “I’m glad to renew a commitment to work and enhance what we have, which is getting students an education.”

Mardembrough has worked as head of study financing for eight of the 10 years partnership.

“I deal with the students personally,” said Mardembrough. “I recommend them to come here, to FAMU.”

Commissioner Wescot-Williams and Mardembrough also attended a town meeting with FAMU, the City of Tallahassee, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College officials.

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