By Maj. Chad Carroll, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.November 17, 2008
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The president of an organization affiliated with Oregon State University met with the Dhi Qar University chancellor Nov. 11 near Nasiriyah.
"We're looking to build a sustainable relationship that goes beyond a one-time event," said Josh Mater, the president of the Michael Scott Mater Foundation. "The Michael Scott Mater Foundation will hopefully be a catalyst to facilitate communication directly between OSU and Dhi Qar University."
During Mater's presentation to Dr. Ali Ismael al Snafi, chancellor of Dhi Qar University, he highlighted the foundation's history, some example partnership efforts and what the chancellor can expect when he visits Oregon State in the coming months. The chancellor is scheduled to visit Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and OSU official Dr. Ed Ray to discuss furthering the two universities' partnership
"This is an amazing project, and Dhi Qar University would love to team up with OSU," said Ali. "Since OSU is in the top 100 universities in the world, we hope to exchange ideas, scholarships, projects, training courses and cultural influences."
Mater stressed that the support for this academic partnership has been overwhelming, with many governmental and non-governmental organizations donating their time and efforts.
Honeywell donated more than 100 books to the university and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, which is currently operating in southern Iraq and the Dhi Qar Province, facilitated delivery of the books to the university.
The Italian Provincial Reconstruction Team is assisting with the province's rebuilding efforts as well as Oregon State's efforts
"The key was to bring together so many organizations," Mater said. "If we and other organizations can emulate this in the future, who knows what can be achieved here in Iraq."
The Michael Scott Mater Foundation is a non-profit organization named after Mater's father, a respected, innovative leader within the forest products engineering community in Oregon. Michael Scott Mater passed away from cancer in December, 2002.
"He (Michael Scott Mater) was extremely passionate about education and the community involvement," Mater said. "The foundation was started in his name simply because I couldn't think of a better way to honor his memory than to continue the work which he did in our home town on an international level."
The foundation is already doing similar work in South America. Mater's foundation is committed to simply making the world a better place. He's certainly started doing that in Iraq.