June 20 - June 21, 2013
The Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted an important delegation of HBCU Presidents and special guests at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Under the auspices of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), eight presidents attended the delegation including Dr. M. Christopher Brown II of Alcorn State University (Mississippi); Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond of Central State University (Ohio); Dr. Robert R. Jennings of The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Albert Walker of Harris-Stowe State University (Missouri); Dr. William L. Pollard of Medgar Evers College (New York); Dr. George C. Wright of Prairie View A&M University (Texas); Dr. Laurence B. Alexander of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and Dean Phyliss Craig-Taylor of the North Carolina Central University School of Law. This esteemed delegation was joined by two additional special guests, Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, President of the University of Bahrain and Dr. Ali Sebaa Al Marri, President of the Dubai School of Government.
The two-day event began on Thursday, June 20, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Johnny C. Taylor, President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Ambassador Andrew J.C. Kao of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in New York on the establishment of Taiwan Academies across 47 TMCF member campuses. The Humpty Dumpty Institute was credited by both institutions for playing a key role in generating this agreement. The signing of this MoU builds bridges between Taiwan and underrepresented universities in the United States to expand Chinese language and cultural education. This was followed by a celebratory cocktail reception and dinner at the home of The Humpty Dumpty Intitute's Board Member, Jennifer Diamond.On Friday, June 20, the United States Mission to the United Nations hosted a working breakfast for the delegation and was briefed by Ms. Tressa Finerty, Minister-Counselor in the Political Section of the Mission. Ms. Finerty presented the delegation with a general overview of the United Nations and how university students might be able to participate in some of the work of the UN through internships and other programs. Following the working breakfast the delegation proceeded to United Nations Headquarters where Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal and Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information, briefed the delegation on the UN Academic Impact initiative. Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal stressed the importance of partnerships on an individual and institutional level, and pointed out that the success of many UN initiatives could not have been achieved without strong partners. Participants were very active in further discussing how to facilitate and further promote cooperation between the UN and HBCUs, and increasing the number of African-American students participating in UN programs, with the Model UN as a prime example. Various exchange and training programs, as well as other educational opportunities, were discussed.
The delegation was then briefed by Mr. Gary Fowlie, the New York Director of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Mr. Fowlie presented an overview of the ITU and explained the importance of their work. The ITU is responsible for creating standards and guidelines to access global telecommunications systems. Mr. Fowlie pointed out that the newest challenge to the ITU, and the most powerful tool for sustainable development, is the internet, which generate new viewpoints on science and technology. Unfortunately, 75% of the world is still without internet access, which negatively impacts GDP growth in lesser developed nations. With every 10% increase in broadband penetration in a country, its GDP increases on average by 1.38%. Therefore, it is crucial for every nation to develop, support and promote their science and technology programs and make them available for young children, especially young girls and women. The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs and their relation to international telecommunications was discussed by participants as well.
Professor Mustapha Tlili, Director of Academics at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations led the next briefing, discussing the very important issues of diversity, civility and culture. His presentation resonated with the entire delegation and spurred a spirited discussion about how universities might play a role in strengthening the goal of global civility. According to Professor Tlili, there needs to be more focus on humanities in university curricula. He stressed the challenges of diversity and pointed out that HBCUs are the embodiment of diversity, and only those who lived in it and see themselves as part of a diverse world can view each other with respect and seek the resolutions that formal diplomacy and corporate solutions cannot tackle. Professor Tlili noted that most global problems are rooted in cultural differences, and in the variations in how people see each other and how others see them.
Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Jan Eliasson was the last speaker of the day. He expressed his happiness at addressing a delegation that reflected a wonderful mix of global perspectives. The Deputy-Secretary-General shared his experiences of being a foreign exchange student in the US during the late 1950s and his outrage about the racial discrimination present in the US at that time. Mr. Eliasson stressed the importance of education as one of the key components of the Millennium Development Goals and pointed out that although there has been some progress in primary education, there is still much to accomplish in secondary and university education. Moreover, the world is becoming increasingly more complicated and there is need for skills which require a quantum leap in the quality of education. He stated that African-Americans and HBCUs in particular were an important constituency for the United Nations and that he and the Secretary-General would work enthusiastically to globalize HBCU campuses. The Deputy-Secretary-General remarked that if he was to have another life and choose another profession, he would have become a teacher. In closing, Mr. Eliasson emphasized the importance of educators to the work of globalization at the United Nations and thanked the delegation for their work in academia.
The program concluded with a luncheon in the UN Delegate’s Dining Room attended by the Ambassadors of Tanzania and the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as representatives of Switzerland, South Africa, and the African Union. The Humpty Dumpty Institute Board Member Dr. Al Khalafalla wrapped up the luncheon addressing the attendees stating that this program marked the beginning of a very productive relationship between HBCUs and the UN.