Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Completion of Fulbright Specialists in Economic Development Program

My five-week Fulbright Specialists assignment is completed. We have accomplished much during this visit and I will return with a signed agreement from the Universita' degli Studi L'Aquila and LSU. There are many areas for joint collaboration and faculty / student exchanges. In addition. There are three identified joint research initiatives that are possible and I have identified possible LSU partners to link with the L'Aquila researchers. The town of L'Aquila is still in disrepair, much like New Orleans one year after Katrina. It is very sad to see an ancient city in shambles. Buildings built in the 14th century are in jeopardy of falling and the center city historic area is called the red zone and blocked off for safety. There are cranes and scaffolding holding up buildings built in the 14th century. The Provincia and university would like us to assist with several seminars on disaster management, resiliency and disaster preparedness. Also, they need help in planned growth. The university has 9 spin off technology companies interested in having a "soft landing" in the USA at the LBTC in Baton Rouge. I made great friends with great people in L'Aquila and at the University. Also, the Fulbright Office of the US State Department have encouraged me to find additional Fulbright Specialists and faculty at LSU that would like to come to Italy and assist in the recovery and redevelopment. I have had several meetings in Rome with the Fulbright leadership and will contact them for follow up assistance. I will do a final recap of the project as well as post more pictures from L'Aquila and Rome.

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