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December 22, 2010

British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean Visits Bethlehem University

Vincent FeanBethlehem University was very pleased to welcome on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 the newly appointed British Consul-General, Sir Vincent Fean. He came to Bethlehem in order to familiarize himself with the town and to explore Bethlehem University. Sir Vincent was greeted by Brother Jack Curran, Vice President of Development, Br. Neil Kieffe, Director of Instructional Technology, and Mr. Phillip Daoud, Communications and Alumni Relations Manager.

The visit began with a coffee reception and showing of the University’s documentary, ‘A Beacon of Hope,’ which highlights the ways in which the University and its students overcome the unusual set of adversities in order to provide and pursue an enriching education. Sir Vincent remarked, after viewing the film that “My very simple thought is that what you’re doing is great.” He encouraged Council Members and gathered staff to continue their work.

Vincent FeanAfter the short film, a discussion session took place where Sir Vincent and Br. Jack discussed ways in which the British Council, a charitable organization focused on academics and based in Britain, and Bethlehem University could cooperate in order to form lasting and meaningful relationships with other academic institutions, particularly in the United Kingdom. Sir Vincent expressed his thought that as Britain is a diverse and academically rich English speaking society, an ideal and natural situation for cooperation between British academic institutions and Bethlehem University exists. He also pointed out that the abundant presence of British goodwill towards Palestinians can also help to contribute to meaningful relationships.

Br. Jack described the University’s new Education project to Sir Vincent and how important continuous enhancement of the quality of educators in Palestine is towards the development of Palestinian society. Sir Vincent concurs, stating that the British Council, while “not very visible, is very focused,” and invests many resources in educational projects. Br. Neil stressed the importance of the University to have cooperation with external academic institutions in order to help provide the faculty, which is primarily composed of Bethlehem residents, the opportunity to expand their repertoire by discovering a diverse range of methodology and tools offered bydifferent academic institutions. Excellent teaching has a multiplying effect towards edifying students in critical thinking, democratic principles, gender equality, social and environmental responsibility, and human rights.

Bethlehem University is the main training center for not only the area’s teachers but also constitute the staff of many area companies and institutions, as well as private business enterprises. The Bethlehem branch of Bank of Palestine retains a staff of 80% Bethlehem University graduates, including the bank manager. Philip Daoud emphasized to Sir Vincent the University’s efforts on teaching students to “…think more creatively and not just look for jobs.” He added that students must start to think as entrepreneurs in order to develop themselves and their society.

The visit continued with a tour of the grounds and a look at the future Education Building under construction. He showed interest in the panoramic views from the University yet seemed dismayed by the difficult circumstances faced by locals who pass through the checkpoints that surround the Bethlehem area, incredulously asking one of his companions, Michael Sansour, who lives in the area and works in Jerusalem, “Is that your way out?” The tour soon thereafter concluded and Sir Vincent continued his tour of Bethlehem.

We congratulate Sir Vincent on his new post and look forward to welcoming him back again soon to Bethlehem University.


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