University of Illinois was awarded a USAID grant to strengthen the existing Egerton University, then a well-known two-year technical development institution located north of Nairobi in Kenya, into a four-year university, in 1987. The project included four distinct goals: curriculum development and evaluation, administrative and management improvement, faculty and staff development and educational materials, research and outreach. The ultimate goal at the end of the project was to build a permanent institutional relationship between University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Egerton.
Dr. Carolyn Sands spent two years in Kenya initiating and compiling data for the human resource skill gap study in collaboration with Dr. Ongondo, head of the agricultural education department at Egerton. The final report, compiled in Urbana, was used to assist in development of curriculum that would match industry needs, as well as locate appropriate faculty for areas of need.
Fifty-one microcomputers were purchased through the project to computerize the campus at Egerton. Management of student records, course registration, and development of a computer lab were all established as a result of the IDAT project. In addition, a computer support specialist was hired in Kenya and brought to the U.S. for training at University of Illinois, and all staff at Egerton were provided computer training by U.S. faculty.
Thirty-four Egerton faculty were brought to the U.S. for advanced degree programs at University of Illinois and three other universities. The faculty were trained in areas such as rural sociology, meat science, agricultural education, food science, agromony and agricultural economics. The project covered tuition and living expenses for the participants while obtaining their degrees.
University of Illinois librarians worked with Egerton faculty to develop a library development plan for the university. Through the program, more than $37,000 in books were purchased and shipped to Egerton. In addition, more than two tons of donated books by University of Illinois faculty were assembled and shipped to form the library on Egerton's campus.
In addition, 13 U.S. faculty were selected to spend one-year sabbaticals at Egerton to lecture and initiate joint research collaborations between their respective universities.
IDAT ended after a four-year grant period expired. "Kenyans were painfully aware of the importance of higher education, and understood the pressure to create higher education opportunities for its people," said Dr. Sands. "The IDAT project brought Egerton University to a status where it could provide that service for Kenyans."