Virginia State University Awarded USAID-Funded Partnership in Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Grant Competition

VSU to Help Build Sudan's Agricultural Sector

For Immediate Release

Thursday, May 14, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED) recently announced that a partnership application including Virginia State University (VSU) was selected as a winner of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Planning Grant Competition. Nearly 300 applications were submitted for capacity-building partnerships between U.S. colleges and universities and higher education institutions in Sub-Saharan African nations. Virginia State University will be included in a partnership with Virginia Tech, the Catholic University of Sudan and the University of Juba in Sudan. The partnership will develop a plan that enhances Sudan's agricultural sector and will be funded by a planning grant from USAID of $50,000 (a complete list of all 20 winning partnerships may be found at

"This competition is an important opportunity to build the kind of higher education capacity critical to the development of Africa," said Alonzo Fulgham, Acting Administrator of USAID. "This initiative was proposed during the Higher Education Summit for Global Development and subsequent regional summit held in Rwanda last year. We are delighted to see this effort moving forward and expect great results from these planning grants."

These paired institutions will use the grants to develop plans to address regional and national economic development priorities such as engineering, health, agriculture, environment and natural resources, science and technology, education and teacher training/preparation, and business, management and economics.

Virginia State University and the other partner institutions will use the grant to develop a plan that allows for long-term university collaboration and which builds Sudan's agricultural sector to respond to major food security needs of post-conflict Southern Sudan. In addition, the partnership will strengthen Virginia State University's commitment to internationalizing their teaching, research, and extension programs.

HED manages the competition which grew out of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative (, a collaborative effort between a number of higher education associations and other organizations, led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U), formerly the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC).

"We were elated by the astounding number of highly qualified applications received, and even more pleased by how many applications demonstrated a strong understanding of higher education needs in Africa," said Dr. Tully Cornick, executive director of HED. "The top 40 paired winning institutions represent the best of these applications, and plans that are developed as a result of the grants will address a variety of critical development needs. It is our belief that if funding is found to implement these plans, we will see tangible, measurable and sustainable impact made in these African countries."

"This important initiative continues to illustrate the enormous unmet need for higher education partnerships in Africa," added Peter McPherson, president of A۰P۰L۰U. "We see this as just the beginning - this is an ongoing campaign to accomplish much more in engaging higher education institutions in Africa."

HED, funded by a cooperative agreement with USAID, was founded by the six major U.S. higher education associations to engage U.S. colleges and universities in international development. For more information about HED and to view details about the planning grants competition, visit

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years. For more information on USAID, visit