At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons and businessman Idan Ofer have announced the establishment of a new, multimillion-dollar scholarship fund designed to educate undergraduate students from Africa and to encourage them to return to their home countries after graduation. Ofer has pledged more than $5 million to establish the Advancing Africa Scholarship Fund.

DAVOS, Switzerland [Brown University]From the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons and businessman Idan Ofer have announced creation of the Advancing Africa Scholarship Fund. Ofer’s gift, totaling $5,750,000, ensures the immediate, full implementation of those scholarships. The Advancing Africa Scholarship Fund is designed to enhance the ability of undergraduate students from sub-Saharan African nations to study at Brown University and return to their country to help address some of the continent’s critical needs in all sectors.

“This truly generous gift allows us to offer the opportunity for scholarships to an underserved continent,” said Simmons said. “We are making this announcement from the World Economic Forum to underscore the global nature of the gift. All nations must be given the chance to participate in the world’s economy. As educators, we have the responsibility to reach out to developing nations to provide the necessary tools to a wider cross-section of students.”

The Advancing Africa Scholarship Fund provides that:

  • recipients shall be known as Advancing Africa Scholars;
  • recipients will be asked to sign a pledge to return to full-time residency in Africa for a period of at least two years upon completion of undergraduate studies Brown or, if they have an opportunity to continue their studies, to return upon completion of a graduate degree;
  • during their undergraduate studies at Brown, recipients shall be entitled to two return trips paid through the Fund;
  • upon their return to Africa, recipients will be given an appropriate monthly stipend for two years to ensure a higher standard of living and to ease their transition. If the resident shall cease to be a full-time resident of Africa within the two year period, this stipend will terminate.

Ofer is chairman of the board of Israel Corporation, Israel's leading holding company, chairman of ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, and a member of the board in various distinguished companies active in the fields of chemicals, shipping, energy (including green energy projects), semiconductors and academic education.

Ofer is also a Brown parent. “Sub-Saharan African nations face poverty, illiteracy, illness and other significant obstacles to economic and social development,” he said. “Enabling students to be educated at one of the best universities in the world will give them the tools to help their nation.” The 2008 World Economic Forum is the eighth in which Ofer has taken part.

The Advancing Africa Scholarship Fund will enable Brown to strengthen educational ties to African countries. Currently 36 students from African nations attend Brown University, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Reunion, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Seventeen are undergraduate, 18 are graduate students, and one attends the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The announcement comes at a time when President Simmons has made internationalization a strategic priority for the University. Under her leadership Brown has taken steps to ensure that students are well prepared for the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world. This includes encouraging scholarship by international students as well and strengthening ties and research with educational institutions around the globe.

Simmons will serve on a number of high-level panels at the World Economic Forum, including The Global University Presidents Forum. This panel will address the dissemination of university content for public benefit, sustainable campuses, and the aim of universities to reach into and intellectually enrich developing countries. Fellow panelists include university presidents from Harvard, MIT, Oxford, HEC Paris, IIT Madras, the National University of Singapore, and University of Cape Town.