Dr. Pemberton meets members of the Jordan University of Science and Technology
CMU Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Cynthia Pemberton with the Jordan University of Science and Technology president, a professor and two hosts discuss the Fulbright Specialist project.


Fulbright Specialist returns to CMU

Dr. Cynthia Pemberton, vice president for academic affairs, spent last month working halfway around the world as a U.S. Fulbright Specialist at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) located in the Kingdom of Jordan.

The Fulbright Specialist Program is part of the larger Fulbright Program which was established by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 2001. Pemberton was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach at the University of Malta in 2011-12, but this was her first time serving as a Fulbright Specialist. The specialist program focuses on linking U.S. scholars and professionals with international institutions for shorter time periods, generally two to six weeks.

While in Jordan, Pemberton worked closely with the JUST faculty and staff on completing two objectives: (1) Assessment of current continuous improvements roles and responsibilities of deans and department chairs at JUST (2) Benchmark with corresponding practice in U.S. universities and recommend correction measures to balance time spent on regulatory business with that which must be spent on quality assurance and continuous improvements.

“The project objectives were met and a foundation established for potential collaborations and/or exchanges into the future,” Pemberton said. While working to accomplish these objects, one thing that surprised her was “how much things are the same. In higher education many of the issues, concerns and time demands are consistent regardless of whether one is at a science and technology institution with 23,000 students in Jordan or at CMU.”

Alongside working on this project, Pemberton had a chance to learn about, explore and experience the culture. She has spent time in the Middle East before, traveling and working in Lebanon and Egypt, and said she felt comfortable and welcomed.

Pemberton applied to the Fulbright Specialist roster in the fall of 2014 and was accepted onto the roster in February 2015. She started as CMU’s vice president for academic affairs in July 2016 and a year later received an invitation to participate as a Fulbright Specialist. She conferred with CMU President Tim Foster before accepting and this past August, the CMU Board of Trustees approved her leave.

She brought a wealth of knowledge and skill to the project at JUST but was also impacted by the experience and has brought knowledge back to CMU. Along with the professional growth attained during this project, Pemberton said, “I think I would like people to know and perhaps appreciate that life carries on for folks, regardless of circumstance. There were nights I could hear the muffled sounds of bombs in the Syrian distance, and even so, I was hosted for festive meals and events in homes and outside in lovely patios. I went sight-seeing, enjoyed evening walks on campus and swims in the sports facility. People live their lives. They talk, visit family and friends, go to cafes and have dinners out. They live lives just like we do; filled with family, friends and the opportunity to engage in meaningful work — work that can and will positively influence the world we, together, live in.”

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