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That’s My Bill: N.H. Legislature may permit Jordanian university to grant college degrees

The Granite State may be small, but its influence stretches as far as the Middle East: The New Hampshire Legislature will decide this year whether to authorize a private university in Jordan to issue college degrees.

Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee, has introduced a bill “relative to degree granting authority of the American University of Madaba.”

Why? Under state law, the Legislature must grant permission to an institution of higher education in order for it to grant degrees. There are a few exceptions, including one for schools that have been in continuous operation since before 1775 (Dartmouth College was founded in 1769).

The American University of Madaba is a private college in Madaba, Jordan, run by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. But formally, it’s a nonprofit corporation headquartered in Concord.

Stiles’s bill would allow the Higher Education Commission, which is part of the state Department of Education, to review the university’s programs and give it degree-granting authority.

Stiles said she knows of three overseas colleges that draw their degree-granting authority from New Hampshire. The commission voted in May to give degree-granting authority to the American University of Madaba; Stiles said her bill is needed “just to make sure it is consistent with the provisions in” state law.

“Because I am the chair of Senate Education,” Stiles said, “I guess I get handed some of this stuff.”

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