Berkeley and Stanford University will help choose faculty and develop curricula for a new university in Saudi Arabia, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The graduate-level King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, funded by a $10 billion gift from the king, will focus on fields like petrochemicals and nano-technology when it opens in September 2009. University of California administrators said they agreed to the deal only with assurances that women would be treated equally.
Stanford will be paid $25 million and Berkeley $28 million for their help. Although the new university will have an unparalleled level of independence, faculty and students will be subject to Saudi rules. Women must cover themselves in public and most public entertainment will be banned. A Stanford engineering professor calls the project “extremely challenging” but said it has a "unique chance to succeed" because of support from the king and "outstanding, high-level Saudis."