Education officials from Qatar began talks with UNC-system officials about two years ago about establishing a business curriculum and degree program for students in the area.
Qatar is a small nation bordering Saudi Arabia, across the Persian Gulf from Afghanistan. University officials stress that long-term prospects for such a project remain intact.
"There had been plans to travel to Qatar earlier this week," said Leigh Adam, executive director of marketing and communications for the business school. "The University and the provost, in particular, have been specific about saying, `All we've done is postpone this trip.'"
Chancellor James Moeser, who made the final decision to delay this week's scheduled visit to Qatar, emphasized that the delay was based on current travel concerns, not doubts about the long-term stability of the Middle East.
"Late last week, we made the decision to postpone the trip," Moeser said. "The decision was based on concerns about security, travel and timing. We remain very interested and committed to this proposal and are in the process of developing a curriculum to support it."
Provost Robert Shelton said most University officials felt the decision was wise. He also said the fact that no critical business was going to be discussed during this week's negotiations made the decision to delay the trip easier.
"Given the uncertainty of world events and the fact that we really didn't have a critical event, a critical decision to make during this trip, we all agreed that it would be simpler to put the trip off, continue to move on with the curriculum development here and then see how world issues develop over the next month," Shelton said.
Adam said a University delegation probably will not be sent until after the State Department lifts the travel advisory it issued in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"We don't know when the travel advisory will be lifted," Adam said. "When it is lifted, the University officials who are involved in this will have to make a judgment about how we proceed forward and what is the best way to continue discussions under the circumstances."