University officials announced plans Tuesday to open a new School of Foreign Service branch campus in Qatar that will eventually offer hundreds of undergraduates in the region an opportunity to take courses paralleling those offered to SFS students on the Hilltop.

The new campus, the first of its kind established by Georgetown, will accept its first entering class of 25 students in August, according to administrators. The students will pursue Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degrees with majors in International Politics.

“Georgetown is excited about the opportunity to extend its international presence to an important region of the world,” University President John J. DeGioia said in a press release. “For more than 200 years we have been educating students to be leaders engaged in the world and a campus in Qatar will be another way of enhancing our mission.”

The new campus will be located in Education City, a 2,500-acre collection of educational and research institutions located just outside the capital city of Doha. Georgetown’s effort will be conducted in partnership with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a group that has attracted a number of international universities to establish branches in the area.

All costs associated with the development of the new campus will be paid for by the Qatar Foundation, as part of Qatar’s effort to create a stronger educational infrastructure.

SFS Dean Robert L. Gallucci said the new campus would create new opportunities for main campus students and faculty as well as students at the Qatar branch. Faculty from Washington will teach at the branch school, and university undergraduates will be able to apply to study in Qatar, he said. Some students at the SFS-Qatar campus will also be able to study in Washington.

Gallucci also said the new branch presents “lots of opportunities for expansion,” including a new university research institute and the possible extension of the Qatar curriculum to include the MSFS graduate student program. Five main campus professors will constitute the faculty at the Doha branch this fall, he added.

Qatar Foundation Senior Media Officer Geoff Kelly said that the SFS branch would occupy a temporary home until construction is completed on a new building in 2007. The size and extent of the new construction will be determined in consultation with Georgetown planning and facilities officials, Kelly said.

Kelly added that the Qatari government has encouraged the development of new educational opportunities in an effort to further modernize the nation in a developing and rapidly globalizing world.

“We want to become a hub for education and research in the region,” he said. “We want to produce a new generation of critical thinkers who are comfortable in the international marketplace – which is one of the reasons that Georgetown is a natural fit for us here.”

The introduction of foreign universities into Qatar, which is regarded by many as one of the most open states in the Middle East, is also part of a plan to create a strong educational system without waiting for a homegrown educational infrastructure to develop naturally, Kelly said.

“Qatar’s leaders don’t feel that they have time to allow a university a century to mature, so we’re building our own out of the best parts we can find – making a sort of university of universities,” he said.

James Reardon-Anderson, an SFS Asian Studies professor, has been named the first dean of the SFS-Qatar campus, university spokeswoman Julie Bataille said. Reardon-Anderson is currently recruiting a number of faculty and staff to fill positions at the new school, although no other positions have been finalized.

“The enthusiasm the entire Georgetown community has shown for this project assures that we will be successful in delivering our part, and the strong response of prospective students and supporters in Qatar and throughout the region promises the same success,” Reardon-Anderson said. “The start of classes in fall 2005 is frighteningly close, but the way my colleagues are approaching this challenge is typical of Georgetown. The Blue and Gray are flying proudly in the Arabian Gulf.”

Georgetown has considered opening a branch in Qatar since the Qatar Foundation first proposed the project in 2002, according to the SFS-Qatar school’s new Web site. The university will join several other American branch schools in Education City, including those established by Texas A&M, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon universities.

Qatar Foundation Chair Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al-Missned, wife of ruling Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has led the effort to develop Education City and attract international universities to the area. She joined DeGioia Tuesday to sign an agreement finalizing the university’s plans for the Qatar expansion.

“The need for sound policy and diplomacy, forged from openness and wisdom, is evident,” Sheika Mozah said in a university statement. “In this regard, Georgetown was our best choice to assist in developing the potential of the diplomats of the future.”

Students attending the SFS-Qatar branch will be recruited largely from English-language international schools from the eastern Mediterranean to South Asia. Pupils will be required to meet the same academic requirements as SFS students in Washington, including a liberal arts core program and detailed international politics studies.

Georgetown’s agreement with the Qatar Foundation will give the university total control over the operations of the branch campus and complete academic independence from the Qatar Foundation and the Qatari government. The agreement also acknowledges the significance of Georgetown’s Jesuit identity in campus administration.

Gallucci said that the success of the Doha campus could influence the creation of other branch campuses in the future in other regions including South America and Japan.

“This project will allow us to assess the viability” of further expansion, he said. “This could well be a model for what we could do elsewhere.”

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