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UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH UNIVERSITY OF LIBERIA

Boston, MA - University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with University of Liberia President Al-Hassan Conteh to help re-build the African University after the devastation of Liberia's just concluded 14-year civil war.President Conteh joined President Wilson at the University of Massachusetts President's Office in Boston for the official signing ceremony.

"We are pleased to be able to work with President Al-Hassan Conteh and his colleagues at the University of Liberia in their efforts to rebuild their institution. Faculty from the University of Massachusetts Medical School are already engaged with the University of Liberia's Medical School and together we have submitted a $3.5 million proposal to the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund a nation-wide program to combat HIV/AIDS in Liberia," said President Wilson.

"We are also actively engaged with the University of Liberia in developing projects to strengthen Liberia's media and undertake workforce development initiatives through the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston," he added.

"On behalf of the University of Liberia, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the dynamic and visionary President of the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Jack M. Wilson, for inviting me to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between our two institutions. I am confident that this MOU will initiate a relationship of opportunities to promote academic research and collaboration for the benefit of the faculty and students of our two universities in science and technology, food security, bridging the digital divide, strengthening the rule of law and medical education, including public health," said President Conteh.

The project to address HIV/AIDS in Liberia will employ a broad spectrum of approaches including public education, media campaigns, training of medical personnel, support of Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers and direct clinical interventions with individuals infected with HIV. The clinical interventions will include prevention of mother-to-child transmissions of HIV and treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy. University of Massachusetts Medical School's Dr. John L. Sullivan, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga and Professor of Nursing Donna Gallagher, each of whom has worked extensively in Africa, will be deeply involved in this effort, the centerpiece of which will be an HIV/AIDS National Reference Laboratory, to be located on the University of Liberia Medical School campus in Monrovia.

President Wilson has communicated with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf concerning the university's existing and proposed initiatives. In 2005, President Johnson-Sirleaf, an economist who earned a master's degree at Harvard University, became the first woman ever elected head of state of an African nation.

Liberia, with a population of approximately three million, has long-standing ties with the United States, having been founded in the early nineteenth century by former American slaves.

5/17/07