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On No 1, 2004 in Bhubaneswar an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Dr. Gary Thomas, Chancellor of the University of Missouri at Rolla (UMR) and four Orissa institutions, represented by Mr. A. Samantray, Administrator, Utkal Univ. (UU), Dr. B. Senapati, V-C, Orissa Univ. of Agri. and Tech. (OUAT), Dr. R.K. Kar, Principal, Ravenshaw College (RC) and Dr. D. Acharya, V-C, Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT). The agreements are not exclusive and other Orissa institutions can join later.

The MOUs are broad and cover faculty and research exchange programs, collaborative research projects, graduate (i.e. post-graduate) and undergraduate joint degree programs. Orissa undergraduate student, after completing two or more years in Orissa, will be able to transfer to a senior year at UMR, progressing on to get an UMR degree. Similar joint graduate degree programs are also planned.

Dr. Gary Thomas was accompanied by Dr. Virgil Flanigan of UMR and Dr. Surya Misra of Action Orissa. In New Delhi they met with members of the US Embassy to explore possible US govt. support for the collaborative projects between UMR and Orissa. They also met with prominent Oriyas in Delhi in all fields, arranged by Amulya Nanda, Director of The Population Institute. In Bhubaneswar Dr. Thomas met with the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary and many other persons of prominence, including Lalit Mansingh.

Many of the details have still to be worked out both at the UMR and the Orissa institutions. Clearly, in any university exchange program minimum academic standards of the host institution have to be met. Orissa students from the four universities will be charged the Missouri Resident tution (approx $8,000) rather than the Non-Resident fees (approx $17,000) for undergraduate students. Similar considerations will apply for graduate students, who have the possibility of other financial support.

The signing of the MOUs is part of the ongoing efforts of Action Orissa and especially the intense personal effort by Dr. Surya Misra. Action Orissa was formally founded at a meeting he called onJuly 2, 2001, during the OSA Convention in Chicago. A small group of expatriate Oriyas and friends of Orissa met over a working dinner at the home of Sam Pitroda in a suburb of Chicago. The meeting had been organised by Dr. Surya Misra to discuss the plight of Orissa and what we, as a group that has acquired knowledge and managerial and people skills in a variety of disciplines, can do to help in the progress of Orissa.

Other current Action Orissa projects include renovation of the Ravenshaw College Centennial Library and cleaning up and revitalisation of Bindusagar.

Lalu Mansinha
for Action Orissa

           

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