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Thursday, June 01, 2006 

Va. Tech opens Caribbean center
School cites plan to increase chances for international studies


Jun 1, 2006

Virginia Tech is going tropical.
The Blacksburg school has established a center in the Caribbean where Tech faculty can teach students and conduct research on biodiversity, environmental sustainability and hotel and tourism management.

The Caribbean Center for Education and Research is in Punta Cana, on the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic.

"We had already been doing a lot of valuable research and community development projects in the Caribbean, but this will allow us to create a more solid base for our efforts," S.K. De Datta, associate provost for international affairs at Virginia Tech, said in a written statement. De Datta, who will oversee the center, is in Punta Cana this week.

In announcing the center yesterday, Tech officials hailed it as part of a larger strategy to build international centers of scholarship around the globe to give Tech students more international experience. Tech also operates the Center for European Studies and Architecture in Riva, Switzerland.

Tech plans to operate the center at the Punta Cana Resort and Club's education facility and has established a partnership with the resort's nonprofit Punta Cana Ecological Foundation. The foundation maintains a 2,000-acre natural forest reserve, miles of protected coral reef, freshwater lagoons and coastal mangroves.

Tech professors have already offered various courses at the resort's education center, including tropical ornithology, biotech entrepreneurship, global issues in natural resources and introduction to travel and tourism management.

According to Tech officials, the Dominican Republic is ideal for the research center because its climate provides a biodiverse setting with many native species.

John Dooley, vice provost for outreach and international affairs at Tech, said the deal the university struck with the resort to create the center is simple: Faculty and students engaged in classes stay at the resort and pay $25 a day for lodging and meals.

Contact staff writer Rex Bowman at rbowman@timesdispatch.com or (540) 344-3612.

© 2006, Media General. Part of the GatewayVA Network.

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