American University of Antigua (AUA) is proud that Tony Harris, midday news anchor for CNN, planted a fruit tree on campus with AUA students as part of Antigua’s World Tourism Day celebration. This year’s theme “Tourism and Biodiversity” was chosen to increase awareness about how biodiversity can increase tourism to Antigua, one of its principal sources of income.

AUA is not a stranger to assisting environmental causes. Students have participated in Antigua’s International Coastal Cleanup Initiative, which has brought beach preservation to the attention of Antiguan citizens. Antigua’s Ministry of Tourism chose Mr. Harris as part of its Celebrity Tree Planting Initiative because he was vacationing on Antigua at the time. Celebrities are no stranger to Antigua either. Eric Clapton and Oprah Winfrey have vacation homes on the island. Derede Samuel-Whitlock, Antigua’s Director of Tourism in the United States, hopes that this act will solidify the bonds between AUA and the island of Antigua.

“Given the destination’s growing relationship with AUA, we believe that a tree planted by Tony Harris on campus would help symbolize the strengthening of this union between the destination and the University over time,” said Samuel-Whitlock.

Following the tree planting, Mr. Harris was given a tour of the campus, which was conducted partly by Vice President of International Affairs and Dean of Library Sciences and Academic Support Dr. Majid Pathan.  They visited a class that was currently in progress and met with some of the students. While in the class, Mr. Harris learned how the educational tool Blackboard™ is used extensively on campus. Later, they visited the anatomy lab and saw how AUA integrates working with cadavers into its curriculum.

“They [Mr. Harris and his crew] were really brave to look at those cadavers,” said Dr. Pathan. “It was a pleasure to meet them and they are always welcome to come back.”