Saudi Arabian university seeks advice from Penn State on going green

University Park, Pa. -- Representatives from Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) flew into State College recently for a whirlwind afternoon of advice from Penn State on how to begin green initiatives on their own campus.

“The visit was incredible,” said Erik Foley-DeFiore, director of the Campus Sustainability Office at Penn State University Park. “Here we were two countries, two cultures, in some ways at war with one another, coming together for a common purpose to protect our one world.”

The March 23 afternoon visit began with a presentation at the Nittany Lion Inn and lunch, which included Halal dining options. The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) talked through Penn State’s sustainability programs and then took the group on a tour of Physical Plant facilities, led by Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of OPP's Central Support Services.

“We were riding in a blue and white van around the middle of Pennsylvania talking of our shared purpose, our similarities and the world we share,” continued Foley-DeFiore. “I was so moved by this experience and so proud of Penn State.”

KFUPM sent three representatives from their Green Initiative Task Force, including Wail A. Mousa, assistant professor, electrical engineering; engineer Nahed F. Al-Sourani, adviser to the general supervisor; and Mutlaq F. Al-Mutlaq, director of Housing & Office Services.

“They seemed particularly interested in our efforts to engage students in recycling and energy saving measures,” said Janet Murphy, director of general administration and planning for the University Office of Global Programs. “I thought this was a highly successful visit and the beginning of a great working relationship between the two groups.”

KFUPM decided to visit Penn State after researching for leaders in environmentally responsible “green” institutions, explained Steve Maruszewski, deputy associate vice president of OPP. “But KFUPM is not new to Penn State. President Spanier recently visited and we anticipate our relationship with them to continue to grow,” he said.

According to their Web site, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) was officially established by Royal Decree on Sept. 23, 1963. The first students were admitted a year later, on Sept. 23, 1964, when 67 young men enrolled in what was then the College of Petroleum and Minerals (CPM). Since that time, the university enrollment has grown to more than 8,000 students and, in 1986, the university was renamed The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. It is located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Last Updated November 18, 2010