The has announced a $2 million gift from alumnus Zuhair Fayez to endow and expand an exchange program for graduate students in architecture at CU Denver and Dar Al-Hekma University, a women's college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The Fayez Collaborative Middle East Exchange Endowed Program at CU Denver will be used to increase the number of student participants and extend trips for students and faculty from the two programs. The CU Denver/Dar Al-Hekma exchange began in 2010 with online discussions about shared senior design projects, and in 2014 each university sent faculty and two students to visit its partner's campus for three days. Beginning in 2016, teams of ten architecture students will take turns visiting Denver and Jeddah, where they will work to develop solutions to contemporary architectural problems and learn about historic preservation efforts in the two countries.
"The design problems are wonderful vehicles for discovering unexpected cultural similarities and dissimilarities," said Keith Loftin, a CU Denver professor of architecture and director of the exchange program. "It is difficult enough for any two people to coordinate a design project with each other, but discovering the cultural assumptions that are normally taken for granted is really eye-opening. It dramatically widens the students' world view."
Fayez, who earned bachelor's degrees in architecture and engineering ('70) and a master's degree in architecture in urban design ('71) from CU, is founder of the largest architecture, engineering, and management firm in Saudi Arabia and is a co-founder of Dar Al-Hekma, the first private, not-for-profit university for women in that country. "I feel indebted to the University of Colorado," he said, "because this institution has given me so much of the valuable education that has shaped my life. There is a power in teaching that comes outside the classroom, and I hope students on both sides learn much about each other's culture through this experience."