Interim Dean and Provost Visit Region, Hear From Alumni

The collaboration between IUP and the Arab American University in the West Bank reached a new milestone as 30 students in the seventh cohort of the Executive MBA program participated in the graduation ceremony in Ramallah on October 22.

IUP Interim Dean Bharadwaj and Provost Luetkehans welcomed by Arab American University students and staff

IUP Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lara Luetkehans and Eberly College of Business Interim Dean Prashanth Bharadwaj, coordinator of Eberly’s offshore programs, traveled to participate in the event over the fall break. Bharadwaj has traveled to AAU more than a dozen times to coordinate and teach courses in the program.

The senior administrators at AAU, including the chairman of its board of directors, were in attendance. The country head of the Arab Bank was the guest speaker at the ceremony, which was organized exclusively for these 30 students. These graduates can travel to the commencement ceremonies on the IUP campus if they can secure a US visa.

Students in this program take all of their classes in Ramallah, and Eberly faculty travel to deliver the program on-site. More than 25 IUP faculty members have taught offshore in this program.

Members of the seventh cohort of IUP’s Executive MBA program at Arab American University

In collaboration with AAU, IUP also delivers in Ramallah its PhD program in Business, the only doctoral program in business in the region. Eighteen doctoral students are in the dissertation phase, many of whom are on target to graduate in the current academic year. As a result of this collaboration, more than a dozen refereed journal articles have been published by students and faculty in this program.

The eighth cohort of the Executive MBA program and the second cohort of the PhD program are scheduled to start in the current academic year.

The number of Executive MBA IUP alumni from this unique partnership has surpassed 250. The alumni group includes dozens of successful entrepreneurs in addition to numerous senior executives in businesses, governments, and NGOs in the region. Three of the EMBA alumni are in the collaborative doctoral program.

The program’s alumni diaspora has spread to the US, Europe, and the larger Middle East region; an alumni event during the visit by Luetkehans and Bharadwaj attracted nearly 40 alumni to campus. These alumni provided feedback about the program and acknowledged the immense value of the program in their professional and personal lives.

In addition, during this event, several strategies and action plans were crafted to not only engage the local alumni more productively but also to explore opportunities to network with the larger IUP alumni body in the United States and globally. Several students in the IUP-AAU program are siblings, spouses, and friends of the alumni of previous cohorts, affirming the high level of satisfaction with the program.

“Dean (Robert) Camp and I traveled to AAU for the first time in 2012, after retired IUP faculty Dr. Ibrahim Affaneh, who is originally from the region, introduced us to AAU,” Bharadwaj said.

“At that time, I never imagined the level of success this program would experience in a decade. We have gone through political tensions, wars, and the pandemic but have stayed resilient to deliver a high-quality academic program. The success is largely attributable to the visionary leadership of AAU and IUP; the faculty, administration, and staff of the Eberly College; many additional IUP offices; and the superior caliber of students in this program.

“This program provides me the inspiration that education can promote better understanding between peoples of totally different backgrounds and hopefully bring peace and harmony in the region in the near future. I am grateful to Dr. Luetkehans for traveling to AAU to demonstrate IUP’s commitment to this partnership!”

“Meeting the students, alumni, faculty, and leadership during our trip to AAU made clear the value of this partnership to all involved,” Provost Luetkehans said. This was her first trip to the region.

“I had the honor of meeting about 75 of our students and alumni, all of whom expressed gratitude to IUP for making this international education experience accessible and for supporting their professional growth. Dean Bharadwaj’s leadership sustaining and growing the partnership has made it what it is today. I also commend the Eberly College faculty for commitment to this program, and I look forward to exploring ways to expand the collaboration with AAU.”