Milestones in MACECE’s history
Fulbright programs began in Morocco in 1952 and were for many years administered by the United States Information Service (USIS). Between 1952-1980, 142 Fulbright study grants were awarded to Moroccans. Numerous American Fulbrighters came to Morocco as lecturers and as both Ph.D. Student and Scholar Researchers.
In 1967, a Cultural Relations Agreement was signed between the two countries to “encourage and further stimulate the present educational and cultural exchange,” and to “increase mutual understanding.” Interest in educational exchange developed in tandem with heightened American awareness of the diversity and wealth of Moroccan history and culture on the one hand, and Moroccan programs of national development leading to educational training at the graduate level in the United States on the other.
1978 marked the beginning of a new era in Moroccan-American relations. During his state visit to Washington in November 1978, King Hassan II and President Jimmy Carter issued a joint communiqué announcing the intention to create a Binational Fulbright Commission. Dr. Abdellatif Benabdeljlil, then President of Mohammed V University and later to become the first President of the Board of MACECE, led a Moroccan delegation to Washington for bilateral discussions on the emerging idea of a Fulbright Commission. This mission was followed by a joint meeting in Rabat in May 1979, which led to the establishment of the “Provisional Commission on Educational and Cultural Exchange” in Rabat in August 1979. The first Moroccan Fulbrighter under the banner of MACECE was sent to the US the following January, and, in the fall semester of 1980, 22 Moroccan graduate students went to American universities under the authority of the Provisional Fulbright Commission. Americans, too, came to Morocco as the Provisional Commission developed: U.S. Scholar-Lecturers came to Moroccan universities in the fall of 1980 and Scholar-Researchers followed the next year. 1981 saw the first Moroccan Post-Doctoral Researchers go to the USA when 8 were selected, including the renowned scholar of Arabic literature, Dr. Abbas Jirari, later a Counselor to the King Hassan II.
The Provisional Commission became a permanent Fulbright Commission as the final draft of the text of the Agreement was finished in October 1981. The Agreement was signed in Marrakech by Foreign Minister M’hammed Boucetta and Secretary of State Alexander Haig on February 12 th of the following year and ratified by Congress on May 20, 1982 during a state visit by King Hassan II to Washington. The Agreement Between the Government of the United States of American and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco Establishing a Binational Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange serves as the founding document of MACECE, the Moroccan-American Commission. The Commission is located in the heart of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, and since 1982, over 3000 Moroccans and Americans have studied, conducted research, and maintained and strengthened Moroccan-American relations under the Fulbright banner. The Commission employs a staff of 13 and its Executive Director is Ms. Rebecca Geffner.