sealPurdue News

January 2, 2003

Purdue professors return from Afghanistan

A Purdue University professor has recently returned from Kabul University in Afghanistan after traveling to the country to assess progress in rebuilding the university. Kevin McNamara, an agricultural economics professor, made the trip in early December along with two other Purdue representatives.

Ray Eberts, director of Continuing Engineering Education and associate professor of industrial engineering, and Wasim Anwar, a Purdue graduate student, also made the trip. Anwar, an Afghan-American who was born in Kabul, has been living in the United States since 1983.

"We went by Habibia High School. It was destroyed during the civil war of the early 1990s. It was locked and the interior was gutted," McNamara said. "There was no indication that anything was being done to rebuild the school. This was one of the better high schools in the city. Many students who graduated from Habibia went on to university, and many then to the United States or Europe for graduate studies."

McNamara did see signs of hope.

"I noticed a lot of improvement over the last time I was there," he said. "The wrecked planes along the runway had been moved. Several main roads in the city had been repaired and repaved. Homes were being rebuilt and storefronts were reopening."

Perhaps the most encouraging signs came from the vendors in the market. McNamara said they were optimistic about improved economic and social opportunity.

"Farmers from just north of Kabul said last year was the first time they've been able to get a crop from their land in 15 years," he said.

The vendor's fields were located along the front line of the civil unrest - in recent years between the Taliban and Northern Alliance fighters.

The next step in the quest to rebuild Kabul University is planned for April when several Afghan faculty members are scheduled to travel to Purdue.

"While they're here, they'll look at our curriculum and how new technology is integrated into teaching and research," McNamara said.

This was McNamara's second trip to Afghanistan for the purpose of helping with rebuilding efforts at Kabul University. Last March McNamara and two other Purdue professors met with Afghan government and education officials to assess the university's needs.

CONTACT: McNamara, (765) 494-4236,