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Cheyney Promotes Internationalization Activities: Sponsors 2nd International Conference on Democratic Governance in Africa, Asia and the Middle East in Rwanda

July 30, 2014

Pictured from l. to r.  Cheyney University's Dr. Gedeon Mudacumura and Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President Sheilah Vance, stand with conference planning team public administration scholars from the US:  Dr. Tina Nabatchi, Associate Professor, Syracuse University; Dr. Susan Gooden, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University and Vice President, American Society of Public Administrators; Dr. Oluwole Owoye, Chair and Professor of Economics, Western Connecticut State University.

Pictured from l. to r. Cheyney University's Dr. Gedeon Mudacumura and Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President Sheilah Vance, stand with conference planning team public administration scholars from the US: Dr. Tina Nabatchi, Associate Professor, Syracuse University; Dr. Susan Gooden, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University and Vice President, American Society of Public Administrators; Dr. Oluwole Owoye, Chair and Professor of Economics, Western Connecticut State University.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania expanded its partnership activities with Rwanda earlier this summer at the 2nd International Conference on Democratic Governance in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, that Cheyney cosponsored with its existing partner, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), as well as the One United Nations Rwanda, United Nations Development Programme, and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, which represents Rwanda and surrounding countries.

Cheyney professor Dr. Gedeon Mudacumura and Sheilah Vance, Esq., Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President, traveled to Kigali, Rwanda and represented Cheyney at the international gathering of some 300 scholars and government officials, from June 30 – July 3. The conference focused on the theme: Accountability and Youth Engagement for Sustainable Development. Both Mudacumra and Vance presented scholarly papers and Vance also gave keynote welcoming and closing remarks on behalf of Cheyney.

“This conference expanded on Dr. Mudacumura’s innovative vision for the first conference in Philadelphia in 2012 to explore the democratic challenges confronting developing countries,” Vance said. “At the 2014 conference, the participants discussed concepts of democratic governance but moved beyond the theoretical frameworks to generate tested home-grown initiatives that are making a real difference in solving the problems and issues confronting people in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.”

Conference attendees included the organizer, Professor Shyaka Asante, Chair of RGB and Chairman of the Board of the Institute Polytechnique de Byumba (IPB), Cheyney’s partner higher education institution in Rwanda, as well as IPB’s Rector and Vice Rector for Finance and Administration.
The conference was included as one of the Rwandan government activities that commemorated the 20th anniversary celebration of Rwanda’s liberation from the 1994 civil war and genocide on July 4. “It was fitting that on July 4 the United States celebrates its birth and Rwanda celebrates its rebirth,” said Vance “Both of our countries are dedicated to the growth and progress of accountable, engaging and sustainable democratic governance.”

Mudacumra, Vance and other professors from the US and around the world were treated as guests of the Rwandan government and invited to a special dinner held by Rwandan President Kagame, as well as a session where Kagame was interviewed for two hours at a youth conference, and to the 20th Anniversary Liberation Day ceremonies in the National Stadium, where they were seated near the presidents of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan.

Mudacumura presented a paper on “A Holistic Systems Model to Fostering Democratic Governance” while Vance presented a paper on “Public School Funding in Rwanda and the United States: Lessons Learned on the Road Towards Educational Equity in a Democratic Society.”

By the end of the conference, all parties agreed to share principles such as acknowledgement of, growth and development of democratic practices to serve as a basis for governance in Africa, Asia and the Middle Eastern countries. They also agreed to highlight key lessons learned from the experiences of different countries to better understand the governance practices that led to stable democracies and institutions.

Mudacumura is overseeing, with RGB, the publication of a book early next year that will feature the scholarly publications presented at the conference.