Emory Maintains Ties With Saudi Arabia

Emory University is not changing partnerships with Saudi Arabian entities in light of recent allegations that the kingdom was involved in the killing of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi last month, according to Associate Vice President of University Communications Nancy Seideman.

Emory partners with five academic institutions backed by the Saudi government.

“Currently there are no proposed changes to these programs, but we will continue to evaluate this situation,” Seideman wrote in a Nov. 6 email to the Wheel.

The partnerships support sponsorships for Saudi students to attend Rollins School of Public Health, the School of Medicine and the College.

Emory received more than $16 million from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) and the Medical College of Jazan University between 2011 and 2014, according to the 2017 U.S. Foreign Gift and Contract Report. The report is compiled by the Department of Education and requires any institution of higher education receiving federal financial aid funds to disclose some gifts or contracts from foreign sources.   

Seideman said Rollins contracts with the King Abdullah Fellowship Program, which grants two-year scholarship programs from the SACM for Saudi students to earn their Master of Public Health degrees at Rollins.

Thirty-seven universities and colleges in the U.S. have received $354 million from Saudi Arabia between 2011 and 2017, according to The Associated Press (AP). A majority of the money was used for academic and scholarship programs, but at least $62 million came to the U.S. through contracts with the kingdom’s nationally owned companies, AP reported.

The Turkish government said Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and critic of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in a pre-planned attack by Saudi nationals while Khashoggi was picking up paperwork in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, The New York Times reported. After falling out of favor with the Saudi Royal Family, Khashoggi fled the country and came to the U.S. where he wrote a monthly column for The Washington Post that criticized the kingdom.

In response to the alleged murder, multiple universities have reconsidered their relationship with the kingdom. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology received $4 million from Saudi Arabia’s state-owned petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco, AP found. MIT announced in a Oct. 22 letter to its faculty that the school would go through a “thorough reassessment of MIT’s Institute-level engagements with entities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

AP noted that multiple universities receiving funding from Saudi Arabia have not yet altered their ties with the country and many schools have not provided details about the source of their Saudi funding.

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