• Saleh Ismail Najim (center), the chancellor of the University of Basra, talks with Kirk Schulz (right), Kansas State University president, and Barbara Leaf, Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team leader, while walking through a courtyard at the University of Basra Nov. 9. Representatives from KSU, Basra PRT and United States Division-South met with university staff to discuss issues surrounding Iraq's higher education system.

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    Saleh Ismail Najim (center), the chancellor of the University of Basra, talks with Kirk Schulz (right), Kansas State University president, and Barbara Leaf, Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team leader, while walking through a courtyard at the...

  • Kirk Schulz, Kansas State University president, and Jeff Morris, vice president for Communications and Marketing, lead their group down the steps of the Ziggurat of Ur Nov. 11. KSU leadership visited United States Division-South leadership deployed out of Fort Riley, Kan., to better understand what Soldiers go through to facilitate their higher education needs if Soldiers decide to continue school after deployment.

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    Kirk Schulz, Kansas State University president, and Jeff Morris, vice president for Communications and Marketing, lead their group down the steps of the Ziggurat of Ur Nov. 11. KSU leadership visited United States Division-South leadership deployed out...

  • Kansas State University staff take a photo with Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, United States Division-South commanding general for maneuver, and 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Soldiers at a U.S. border outpost in Iraq, Nov. 10, shortly after visiting an Iraqi general at Shalamcha Point of Entry. The four 'Wildcats' met with USD-S leadership, Basra University staff and an Iraqi general as part of their visit to Iraq.

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    Kansas State University staff take a photo with Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, United States Division-South commanding general for maneuver, and 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Soldiers at a U.S. border outpost in Iraq, Nov. 10, shortly after visiting an...

BASRA, Iraq - The president of Kansas State University and his staff received the experience of a lifetime when they visited United States Division-South Soldiers in Iraq from November 8 through 11.

Kirk Schulz, the KSU president, and three other members of 'Task Force Wildcats' got to see life through the eyes of deployed Soldiers as they watched USD-S conduct a variety of daily operations, from providing convoy and ground security while visiting Basra University to taking a flight in Blackhawk helicopters to transport Soldiers and assets to their destinations.

"We have done things [here] that I would not have imagined I would have done, from flying in a Blackhawk with the doors open to having an Iraqi meal with a general," Schulz said, recalling highlights of his trip. "It is a unique cultural experience."

Virginia Moxley, dean of the College of Human Ecology, described the trip as remarkable.
"We have had experiences that civilians just don't get," Moxley said.

During their visit, Schulz and his colleagues, Jeff Morris, vice president of Communications and Marketing, Art DeGroat, director of Military Affairs, and Moxley attended several meetings with USD-S leadership, Basra University representatives, Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team members and the Iraqi general who commands the Shalamcha checkpoint on the Iran border.

While in Basra, the 'Wildcats' had lunch with KSU alumni of the 1st Infantry Division and dinner with dual-military couples of the division.

At the dinner, the couples talked about different challenges faced with having a single spouse or both spouses deployed in combat.

"In my college, we study military family issues," Moxley said, "so I especially appreciated all the work that was done to introduce us to married couples in the military."

Part of the discussion will help Moxley provide critical feedback to meet the needs of Soldiers and returning veterans who choose to continue higher education at KSU, she said.

Schulz and Moxley both praised DeGroat as being the 'master' at strengthening relations between KSU and the Big Red One, serving as the liaison between the military and civilian populations.

"He has helped do the translation between university talk and army talk, between university cultures and army cultures," Moxley said.

KSU has always been supportive of Soldiers and their families, Schulz said.

"It is a close and growing relationship," he added.

Not only did the visit strengthen the bond between the 1st Inf. Div. and KSU, but the delegation also got to see part of history during their visit. On the last day, the Wildcats visited the Ziggurat of Ur, which not many foreigners have had the chance to do until the end of the Saddam Hussein regime. After a tour, the Wildcats were loaded on a Blackhawk once again to make their way to Kuwait where they would depart to the U.S.

"This trip could have not been planned better," Moxley said. "I cannot imagine anybody having facilitated civilians this well over three days so that we can see the range of things we have seen."

"I appreciate the complexity of Iraq," Schulz said. "We will leave Iraq with a better understanding and even greater appreciation for the work that Soldiers do."

Page last updated Tue November 16th, 2010 at 18:50