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January 22, 2010

Bethlehem University Officials Meet with US Ambassador, Vatican Official in Rome

Vatican officialThe US Ambassador to the Vatican and the Chancellor of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre met with Bethlehem University Vice Chancellor Brother Peter Bray and senior administration officials this week during a series of University planning meetings held in Rome. Msgr. Hans Brouwers, Chancellor of the Equestrian Order, participated in the first-ever Friends of Bethlehem University Leadership Forum, on Wednesday, 20 January 2010; while new United States Ambassador to the Vatican, Dr. Miguel Humberto Diaz, and his wife, Dr. Marian Diaz, attended a celebrative dinner with senior University administrators, the Board of Regents and friends of Bethlehem University on Thursday, 21 January, 2010.

Ambassador Dr. Diaz is a prominent theologian and a former college professor. He presented his credentials to Pope Benedict in August 2009, following his appointment by President Barak Obama and confirmation by the United States Senate. The ambassador and his wife attended Thursday’s dinner as honored guests of Brother Peter Bray, Bethlehem University Vice Chancellor; Brother George Absi, President; Dr. Rudolf Solzbacher, Chair of the Regents; Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, Superior General; and Brother Thomas Johnson, Vicar General.

Gathering at the De La Salle Christian Brothers Generalate in Rome, Ambassador Dr. Diaz spoke about the closeness of his personal life with the educational mission of Bethlehem University. He also reflected on the valuable contribution that the University’s faculty makes each day through their teaching, research, and service to the community in a part of the world that is so important to peoples of all faith traditions.

H.E. Cardinal John Foley, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order, has a keen interest in education and is a long-time University supporter. He was to have been a keynote speaker and honored guest at the Friends of Bethlehem University Leadership Forum but was unable to attend due to illness. Msgr. Hans Brouwers, Chancellor of the Equestrian Order, attended the gathering, bringing with him the Cardinal’s greetings and encouragement.

Leadership for service

The Leadership Forum provided an opportunity for Brother Peter and the Friends group leaders to review their plans to support the University’s mission of service through teaching, research and community outreach. At the Forum, Friends group leaders exchanged ideas for their future work and strengthened their own international network.

Friends of Bethlehem University groups exist in Ireland, England, Switzerland, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates, with new groups forming in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. For many years the Friends groups have assisted the University in establishing international academic and research links, sponsored student scholarships and provided University program funding. Currently, the groups are exploring ways they can serve as mentors and hosts for Bethlehem University students and graduates wishing to participate in an international career-focused internship program.

The Friends groups are also active as University advocates and ambassadors. Most recently, they worked tirelessly in the campaign to have Israeli authorities allow University student Berlanty Azzam to complete her studies in Bethlehem. Professor Dr. John Kelly, Chair of the Friends of Bethlehem University in Ireland, for example, has published a series of opinion pieces in the Irish press and garnered the support of Irish academic and government officials.

Planning for growth

The Bethlehem University International Board of Regents met Thursday and Friday, 21 and 22 January 2010 to review University activities. Among the agenda items was the planned construction of a new teaching and learning center at the University. The center, which has received partial funding through a grant from the Foundación Promoción Social de la Cultura, will expand efforts by the Faculty of Education to provide on-going professional development programs for teachers and administrators in primary and secondary schools throughout Palestine. Center plans include state-of-the-art classrooms, an educational resource center for Palestinian school teachers, a drama education facility and Education faculty offices. The expansion is part of the University’s ongoing efforts to enhance University teaching through community-based action research and service outreach.


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine