Education: Pipeline from Iran

William McGill, president of Columbia University, was eating breakfast in the Royal Tehran Hilton recently when a familiar figure walked by. McGill and his friend, the president of a California university, looked at each other and grinned. "What are you doing here?" asked McGill. "When did you start working this territory?" replied the Californian.

U.S. educators have been stumbling over each other in Iran during the past year as word spreads that the petrodollar-rich country badly needs academic expertise—and is willing to pay dearly for it. Faced with dwindling income from endowments, foundations and the Federal Government, college administrators from Harvard to...

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