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Press Release

MCC Vice President Celebrates First Commencement of San Diego State University in Georgia

For Immediate Release

June 5, 2019

TBILISI, June 5, 2019 – The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Vice President for the Department of Compact Operations, Anthony Welcher, joined Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, San Diego State University (SDSU) President Adela de la Torre, and U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood this week in Tbilisi, Georgia, for the inaugural commencement of SDSU in Georgia.

The class of 2019 is the first cohort to graduate from SDSU in Georgia and comprises 55 students. Twenty percent of the class is graduating summa cum laude, with a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

Through the $140 million Georgia Compact, MCC is partnering with San Diego State University and three Georgian public universities – Tbilisi State University, Georgian Technical University and Ilia State University – to support high-quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) bachelor’s degree programs and increase women’s participation in those fields. More than 600 students enrolled during the compact, nearly 40 percent of whom are women.

“When we sat down to develop the second MCC Georgia Compact with officials from the Government of Georgia, we realized that education was a major hurdle,” said MCC Vice President Welcher. “The opportunity to develop these kinds of STEM programs, at all education levels including with San Diego State University, is helping to build the human capital to serve this country in the future.”

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili also addressed the new graduates. “MCC’s second compact in Georgia promotes economic growth by strengthening STEM education,” she said. “Thus, this is a significant investment, which will contribute to a better future for Georgia. Through the support of the American people we have started to strengthen STEM fields and this is important for our economic prosperity.”

During his visit to Georgia, MCC Vice President Welcher also attended the official opening of the new SDSU-Ilia State University (ISU) engineering building.

“The new ISU building will become a center for STEM disciplines development in Georgia,” said Ilia State University Rector Dr. Giga Zedania. “This U.S.-Georgian partnership that has already brought tangible results in strengthening technology and engineering education will be the main factor in creating the foundation for a knowledge-based economy.”

The new multi-story building, which houses several different engineering labs, is the flagship infrastructure investment under the compact’s STEM Higher Education Project. While part of ISU, it will also serve as a “hub” for all SDSU-Georgia classes and programming. The new, centrally located building, will officially open for student use in the fall 2019 semester.

SDSU President Adela de la Torre also attended the event. “I am thrilled to be in Georgia this week to celebrate the first fruits of SDSU's collaboration with the Government of Georgia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the United States, “ she said. “Together, we are launching our first cohort of outstanding STEM graduates who are entering Georgia's workforce ready to make an impact.   

“I continue to be impressed by the 40 percent female graduates who have broken and will continue to break gender barriers as STEM leaders in Georgia.  

“Today's opening of the new state-of-the-art STEM building at Ilia State University symbolizes the sustainable success of our collaborative efforts. I have no doubt that our investments in educating the STEM workforce of the future will transform Georgian communities and the world." 

MCC’s investment aims to increase the earning potential of Georgians by supporting development of the skills needed to drive the nation’s economy. The compact, which closes on July 1, 2019, covered a range of educational investments, including rehabilitating schools, training teachers and principals, delivering U.S. accredited STEM bachelor’s degrees through the partnership with SDSU, and supporting industry-demanded technical and vocational training programs. Overall, the compact will benefit more than 1.7 million Georgians, equipping them with better education and training.

The MCC Georgia Compact is being implemented by the Millennium Challenge Account-Georgia (MCA-Georgia).

For more information on MCC’s investments, visit


MCC is an independent U.S. Government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to developing countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights. Learn more about MCC at