The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Gannon partners with Jordan

Gannon University students and faculty now have the opportunity to escape Erie’s cold weather, learn a new language, absorb a different culture and travel 5,908 miles to spend a semester in Jordan, one of the most exotic countries of the Middle East.

Gannon recently signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the American University of Madaba (AUM), which will allows for the exchange of undergraduate students, staff, publications and joint research projects.

According to the memorandum, each institution may send up to five full-time undergraduate or graduate students for one semester or a full academic year each year. Universities, however, retain the rights to accept credit taken in the host university.

Students will be selected based on their academic excellence, seriousness of interest in the field proposed, adequate language competence and the capacity to adjust to cross-cultural situations.

Story continues below advertisement

Student nominations from AUM will come from the dean of student affairs at AUM. Christopher Vilevac, Gannon’s associate director of the International Student Office and study abroad coordinator, will be responsible for all student nominations from Gannon.

Vilevac said Jordan was a great destination for students who are looking to learn about different cultures.

“Students can pick up the language and the culture and be able to study in a Catholic university in a region which we don’t necessarily associate with Catholicism,” Vilevac said.

“They can spend more time with building relations with people from other countries while sticking to their identity as well.”

Students are expected to pay their tuition cost to their home institution, but other fees – including housing, health insurance, technology, activities – to the host institution. The latter will provide the students with an orientation program, any university certification needed to acquire a visa, assistance with finding accommodation and an original academic transcript.

While students nominated by the home institution will normally be accepted by the host institution for exchange, the host institution retains the right to review the nominated students and to make final decisions concerning the admission.

The memorandum also includes a faculty and staff exchange program, which opens the doors for exchange of publications and joint research projects, faculty exchange for independent research and teaching and consultation in areas of expertise.

According to Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., several faculty and staff members have already been to Jordan and have built this relationship through personal and professional connections.

“We started out with an archaeological presence and then we had a service presence in the community,” Taylor said. “We now have a faculty member who has been there on her sabbatical and other faculty members have also gone over.”

According to Taylor, the American University of Madaba is founded and funded by the Latin Patriarch Church and is the first Catholic and the first nonprofit university in Jordan. It is also the only university whose cornerstone has been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.

“There is a similarity and consistency of our mission and the mission of the American University of Madaba,” Taylor said.

Taylor also said Gannon has had a presence in Jordan for decades, and a more consistent one over the past four years.

“This was one piece in what has been a growing partnership with the country of Jordan,” Taylor said. “It’s growing in the numbers of people involved and in the number of things we’re doing.”

Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the history department, who has led several services trips to Jordan, said the partnership provides students the opportunity to meet “the warmest, most wonderful people in the world.”

“Gannon students will be enveloped in love by Jordanians,” Bloodworth said. “Americans will learn how awesome, warm and hospitable Arabs are.”

Jordan has also had and continues to have a presence at Gannon as one graduate and two undergraduate Jordanian students are currently enrolled at the university.

Leen al-Hamarneh, a Jordanian sophomore finance major, said people should visit Jordan because it’s a country full of culture and history.

“There is a lot to see and learn there,” al-Hamarneh said. “Plus, its people are very nice and welcoming.”

Shannon Gross, a junior environmental science major from Erie, is planning to embark on her journey to Jordan in January as the first exchange student in the University of Madaba.

“I am most excited to see a different viewpoint other than the western one that I grew up with,” Gross said.

Taylor said he felt very enthusiastic about the partnership with AUM in a country as safe and cultural as Jordan.

“We couldn’t have been received more positively,” Taylor said. “It’s the start of something that could be very beneficial for both and that’s what partnerships are about.”



[email protected]

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All comments will be reviewed for language before published on the website.
All THE GANNON KNIGHT Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *