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Lux campus lease to expire

Ben Swofford, The Miami Student

Students studying abroad at the Miami University Dolibois European Center (MUDEC) in the coming years will likely be taking classes with the local students of Luxembourg.

The lease on the 15th century château that has housed the Luxembourg program for its 41 years expires in 2012. Months in the works, the plan for Miami's "fourth campus" in Differdange to integrate with the new University of Luxembourg site in Belval has been hoped to be the solution for the program's future.

One problem is that the new campus in Belval won't be ready until 2014, two years after the Differdange castle's lease will expire.

Thierry Leterre, dean of the European Center, said the university should have been built by 2012 but constructing the campus has taken longer than hoped for. The current issue has been to find a location for the interim two years, though the likely choice is to just extend the lease on the castle.

Even after 2014 it is possible that MUDEC will retain the beloved château.

"A good medium solution is to have classrooms in both the château and University of Luxembourg," Leterre said.

He said that a distance between the two programs, just a 10 minute train ride between stops close to both locations, would not hamper academic ties.

Sophomore Lauren Brill plans to attend MUDEC this summer. She said the castle defines the character of the program. As it was a big part of her study abroad decision, she would be sorry to see it go.

"There's so much history in that castle," Brill said. "Not many people get that experience."

Leterre said he would like to keep the château as well as have a presence in Differdange — a city he calls very welcoming — at least in some capacity. But problems with the château, such as small classrooms and the lack of spaces for teachers, create a need for different or additional space.

"We definitely cannot stay in the current state without new facilities," he said.

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Mary Woodworth, senior associate provost and the associate vice president for academic affairs, said the government in Differdange would like Miami's presence in the city to continue.

"Indications are that they'll work out a solution to let us stay," she said.

The Luxembourg government has a very strong relationship with Miami according to Leterre, and both the local and national ties in Luxembourg are an important factor in MUDEC's future. Government support will play a part in deciding how to handle both the program's future and the void between 2012 and 2014.

The Differdange City Hall, for instance, is developing projects currently that Miami may be able to work into the European Center's housing equation which is good news since the University of Luxembourg will not be constructing residence halls in Belval as previously hoped for.

One sure thing is that the Dolibois Center will not close down, even temporarily.

"Whatever will happen, we will be there," Leterre said. "It's been 41 years, we are not going to interrupt that."