Las Cruces Fulbright Conference to feature Ambassador Kenton Keith

April 11, 2011 by Jay Rodman, NMSU News Center

The New Mexico State University Honors College, Office of International and Border Programs and Career Services, will offer the first-ever Las Cruces Fulbright Conference, “Global Education and Exchange: New Mexico at the Crossroads,” April 14-16, thanks to a Fulbright Association grant awarded to the University of New Mexico’s Office of International Programs and Studies to promote Fulbright events around the state.

Downtown Las Cruces and the NMSU campus will provide the venues for the conference, which will include events for the general public, current and former Fulbright fellowship recipients and prospective NMSU Fulbright applicants.

The April 16 conference kick-off event in downtown Las Cruces will include a timely discussion – “Understanding the Crisis in North Africa and the Middle East” – featuring Kenton W. Keith, a retired U.S. ambassador whose diplomatic assignments included oversight of Fulbright programs in several countries.

Also appearing on the Saturday program are Kebir Ammi, a Paris-based Moroccan novelist who is currently a Fulbright scholar at the University of New Mexico, and Nader Ayadi, an NMSU graduate student from Tunisia whose studies are supported by a Fulbright fellowship. The program will include a showing of Ayadi’s film “Vive le Cinema” about the preservation of movie theaters in Tunisia.

During his 34-year career, Ambassador Keith served in the U.S. Information Agency, with diplomatic postings in many countries, including the Middle Eastern and North African nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco, Syria and Egypt. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Qatar in 1992, where he served until 1995. He retired in 1997 at the rank of Career Minister after two years as the USIA’s director for the Near East, South Asia and North Africa.

In the wake of 9/11, Ambassador Keith was called back into service as special envoy to Pakistan to serve as director of the Coalition Information Center during initial stages of the war in Afghanistan.

The April 16 event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St., Las Cruces. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited, so anyone interested in attending should contact the NMSU Honors College at 575-646-2005 to reserve a space.

Additional conference events include:

– Sunday, April 17 – Cultural activities in and around Las Cruces for area residents who have held Fulbright fellowships and current Fulbrighters from other countries currently based at New Mexico institutions.

– Monday, April 18, 10 a.m., 50 Milton Hall – “Is there a Fulbright in Your Future?” Fulbright Scholars Program workshop for NMSU faculty, presented by the NMSU Teaching Academy.

– Monday, April 18, 11 a.m., Conroy Commons – “Aggies Abroad: The Fulbright Scholarship and Other International Opportunities,” an information and application workshop for NMSU students presented by the Honors College.

– Monday, April 18, noon, Conroy Commons – “Careers in the U.S. Foreign Service,” a panel discussion featuring Ambassador Kenton Keith and Ambassador Delano Lewis, NMSU interim dean of International and Border Programs.

The Fulbright Program is an international exchange program that dates back to the mid-1940s. It is named after former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, who introduced the legislation creating the program. Through bi-lateral partnerships between the U.S. and other countries, thousands of U.S. citizens have spent time abroad and thousands of citizens from partner nations have spent time in the U.S., teaching, learning and sharing their cultures. The program’s goal is to foster “international partnership and mutual understanding.”

The Fulbright Association, based in Washington, D.C., is a network of current and former Fulbright fellowship recipients with a commitment to “advance international understanding through volunteer service to communities, people-to-people diplomacy and dialogue on global issues.”

For more information about Las Cruces Fulbright Conference events, visit the NMSU International and Border Programs website at or contact the NMSU Honors College at 575-646-2005.

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