For the first time in history, an American university will build a campus in Israel. Gov. Rick Perry is triumphing the creation of Texas A&M University at Nazareth. The Aggie "Peace Campus" hopes to draw from Arab, Jewish and international populations.
The project is near and dear to Perry as well as Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp. The men, both evangelical Christians, were also roommates at A&M and have been Israel advocates for decades.
"Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition."
Sharp told the New York Times that he began planning an Aggie campus in Israel almost immediately after being installed as Texas A&M's chancellor in 2011.
"Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition," Perry said in a statement. "We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserve peace and build understanding between cultures."
Perry announced the official plans while in Israel at a meeting in the home President Shimon Peres. Chancellor Sharp and Israel's minister of education, Shai Piron, were also present.
"Today is a day of celebration," Piron said in a statement. "Our joy is even greater, knowing that we are establishing a campus of peace located in the city of Nazareth, in the Galilee.
In accordance with state law, none of Texas A&M's public dollars can be invested in an international branch. The university has said funding for the development and construction of the Nazareth campus will come from private donors across the globe.
A&M expects the student body to reach 5,000 and plans to eventually offer undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees.