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Bethlehem University Appoints First Female V.P.

Irene Hazou, academic vice president of Bethlehem University, smiles during an interview with Catholic News Service at the West Bank campus 13 Sept. In August, Hazou became the first woman and Palestinian to hold the Catholic school's highest academic p osition. (Photo: CNS/Debbie Hill) 

Hazou, who earned her master’s and doctorate from Oregon State University, said Bethlehem University has taken significant strides toward its goal of academic excellence in all sectors, including academic programs, teaching, learning and research.

Among the numerous goals she has set for herself are the development of the existing Center for Teaching Excellence and the establishment of a deanship for research. She said she hopes “action research” will help teachers assess and improve their teaching skills.

Hazou said she is aware that her long association with the university — which, in some ways, is a help — risks preventing her from pursuing ideas outside of the school’s realm of comfort.

“I need to be considering innovative ideas to bring to my colleagues,” she said. “I like to (have everyone) involved in the discussion. I don’t fear differences in opinions. I appreciate seeing things in a new light. You need to be sensitive to what other people think.”

Because of her deep connection with the university it is especially moving for her to now be in a position where she can follow through with ideas she believes will benefit the university, she said, particularly at this moment when the university is on the verge of “significant expansion” with the purchase-in-process of a nearby building.

With limited space to grow, the university has to carefully consider all options for the use of the property, an old hospital, and is weighing an array of possibilities ranging from enlarging current academic programs to establishing new departments, she said.

“Very exciting things are happening,” she said.

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Tags: Middle East Christians Palestine Bethlehem West Bank Bethlehem University