CONWAY, Ark. (Sept. 2, 2011) – Hendrix College will play a critical play in the future of higher education in the Republic of Rwanda, according to Habumuremyi Pierre Damien, the country’s Minister of Education.
Damien and an eight-member delegation of Rwandan representatives visited the Hendrix campus Friday, where they spoke of the country’s continuing need to rebuild its higher education system in the wake of the 1994 genocide.
In 2007, Hendrix led the creation of the Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program, a partnership with the Rwandan government to enroll Rwandan students at colleges and universities in the United States. The program is administered by Hendrix in partnership with the William J. Clinton Foundation. The Hendrix-led higher education consortium was the brainchild of David Knight, the chairman of the Hendrix College Board of Trustees. Knight, the Chief Legal Counsel at Stephens Inc., worked with President J. Timothy Cloyd to begin Hendrix’s relationship, and both men have been instrumental in recruiting new colleges to the consortium during the past four years.
The program now includes 129 Rwandan students enrolled at 18 institutions across eight states.
“We are very proud of our relationship and the partnership we have developed with the Republic of Rwanda,” said President Cloyd. “Not only does this support Rwanda’s vision for its future, it benefits us. Our students and faculty members grow because of their interactions with the Rwandan students and the friendships they forge with the Rwandan students.”
The first four Rwanda Presidential Scholars graduated from Hendrix in May 2011.
“The graduation of the first Rwanda Presidential Scholars at Hendrix was a moment of great satisfaction and pride,” said Dr. Robert L. Entzminger, Provost and Dean of the College, who said the students’ success at Hendrix was a tribute to their talent and the way in which faculty members embraced the program and committed to its success.
“The quality of education you deliver to these students is very important to our country,” said Minister Damien.
Damien said he met with the Rwandan graduates this summer.
“They told me they felt at home here,” he said. “Thank you for that.”
Following a welcome ceremony on campus, the delegation toured the campus and observed the science teaching and research facilities. They also met with faculty and staff representatives.
“We are here to cement our relationship and to explore new areas of cooperation,” Damien said.
Professor Lwakabamba Silas, Rector of the National University of Rwanda, said the most critical goal of the program is to increase the percentage of college graduates in Rwanda.
“We need to think strategically about how to build our capacities in higher education,” Silas said, noting ongoing challenges of teacher shortage, lack of materials to train students and faculty, and adequate higher education facilities.
Silas said he hopes that the delegation will continue to explore new ideas, including distance learning, remote library access, and faculty and administrative exchange programs.
“It’s a big list,” he said of the new ideas. “But we look forward to working with you.”
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. Hendrix is featured in the 2011 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 376 colleges and is listed in the 2012 edition of the Fiske Guide to College as one of 25 “Best Buy” private colleges included. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.