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Faculty Textbook Donations to Impact Students Across Ethiopia
August 8, 2007

A textbook drive organized by Professor Kenzu Abdella of the Trent University Mathematics Department has resulted in the donation of more than 1,500 books to benefit university students throughout Ethiopia.

"I was shocked – I didn’t expect half this response," said Prof. Abdella, who shipped the books to Addis Ababa University (AAU) last week. "These books are going to make a huge difference to the science library for students."

The inspiration for Prof. Abdella to initiate the book drive resulted from his last visit to AAU where he has been an external reviewer of its graduate studies program in applied mathematics. While he was there last January he discovered how few and outdated the textbooks were in its library. "New textbooks are very expensive and can cost faculty as much as one month’s salary," he noted.

When he returned to Trent, Prof. Abdella sent out an appeal to his science colleagues to donate current science texts to bolster the AAU’s library holdings. The response from Trent faculty was remarkable, filling nearly 50 boxes with textbooks no longer needed at Trent. Many of the books brand new and will meet the standards of Ethiopian colleagues in several disciplines, including biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental resource studies, geography, mathematics, psychology and physics. Generous contributions from President, the Vice President Academic and the Trent International Program made shipment of the books to Ethiopia possible. Support from the Embassy of Ethiopia in Canada has also been essential.

Assisting Prof. Abdella with cataloguing the books for shipment were Trent students Oumer Ahmed and Malisa Kurtz. A science graduate of AAU, Mr. Ahmed noted how challenging it was to gain access to textbooks in the library. Mr. Ahmed spent several hours organizing and packing the donated books last week while preparing for his Masters defence in environmental modelling, which took place on August 7.

AAU is Ethiopia’s oldest university, serving approximately 10,000 students. Ethiopia’s six other post-secondary institutions regularly borrow library materials from AAU, which means that students across the country will benefit from the books provided by Trent professors.

"This initiative showed me how much Trent colleagues care and how internationally-minded they are," said Prof. Abdella. "Trent faculty are willing to go above and beyond to support education around the world."

Prof. Kenzu Abdella is an accomplished professor in applied mathematics and a Trent alumnus. Originally from Ethiopia, his research focuses on fluid dynamics and atmospheric science with an emphasis on developing useful computational models for predicting the effects of climate change. Prof. Abdella maintains a close connection with AAU and has been instrumental in setting up the university’s graduate program in applied mathematics. In September 2007, he will begin supervising graduate students there as an adjunct professor from his base here in Canada. Prof. Abdella’s next goal is to establish a college in Ethiopia that will be connected to Canadian institutions such as Trent. He wants it to be a school that teaches students applied technology to build the much-needed skills and capacities in Ethiopia.

For more information about Professor Kenzu Abdella, please visit his website.



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