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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA has big plans for Mexico office

    The UA wants to facilitate the exchange of aid, research, faculty and students with Canada, Mexico and Latin America. It has recently established an Office of Western Hemispheric Programs to make that goal possible.

    “”This particular office, there is no other office like this at any other university,”” said Francisco Marmolejo, assistant vice president of the UA Office of Western Hemispheric Programs.

    The new office,

    The University of Arizona has a historic niche – it’s one of the most recognized universities in Mexico.

    -Francisco Marmolejo,
    assistant vice president,
    UA Office of Western Hemispheric Programs

    located in downtown Mexico City, will serve as a resource center for students and faculty by finding opportunities for collaborative work between the university and other institutions around the Americas, Marmolejo said. It will also serve as a liaison between other institutions and the UA.

    One major goal of the office is providing opportunities for research, teaching, study abroad and other initiatives in the Americas, Marmolejo said.

    “”Our office has been designed to foster collaboration with counterparts and relevant agencies in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America,”” he said. “”Rather than administering specific programs, we serve as a support office to all the departments and units on campus currently engaged or interested in engaging in collaborative activities with the
    referred countries.””

    The office will also be seeking out sources of funding for collaborative opportunities between the UA and other institutions around the Americas.

    “”We are finalizing the details for the future launching of a mini-grants program that will provide matching support to collaborative projects with countries in the Western Hemisphere,”” Marmolejo said. “”The idea is to provide small, but effective, ‘seed’ incentives.””

    Additionally, the new office will be working to identify sources of support for international projects in Canada and Latin America, which will come from government agencies,
    foundations and corporations, he said.

    “”Just last week we were able to secure funding from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. embassy in Mexico, which will provide funding to house a group of Mexican scholars visiting the U.S.-Mexico border during the upcoming spring,”” Marmolejo said.

    Academic departments on campus have already begun coordinating with the Office of Western Hemispheric Programs.

    The Center for Latin American Studies currently has plans to work with the office to bring faculty from Latin America to visit and teach here at the UA, said Raul Saba, associate director of the Center for Latin American Studies.

    “”This office should help facilitate new and greater collaboration with colleagues in the region and help establish new links and strengthen those already in place among individual faculty,”” he said. “”We foresee a lot of collaboration.””

    The Office of Western Hemispheric Programs is a reflection of more than just the U.S.’ relationship with Mexico, Saba said.

    “”The Latin American region, not only our important neighbor Mexico, is of increasing importance to the state of Arizona,””
    he said.

    The office will organize UA faculty visits to Mexican research centers and higher education institutions, with the potential for faculty to participate in seminars in Mexico, and for Mexican educators to come to the UA, Marmolejo said.

    Beginning in 2008, the office will also coordinate a speaker series, hosting international experts on a variety of topics.

    “”We already invited Juan Carlos Romero-Hicks, general director of the Mexican Science and Technology Council, to be the first speaker in this series,”” Marmolejo said. “”The University of Arizona has a historic niche – it’s one of the most recognized universities in Mexico.””

    The motivation behind forming the office is to help strengthen the ties that the UA has with Mexico and Latin America, he added.

    “”There are multiple connections that the university has developed with Mexico over the many years,”” Marmolejo said.

    One example is the Summer School of Guadalajara, which was established more than 50 years ago.

    In addition, the UA alumni presence in Mexico is considerable, as 12 out of 14 researchers at a Sonoran research center are doctoral graduates from the UA, he said.

    Despite this, it was not until recently that the UA established a concrete presence in Mexico and Latin America, Marmolejo said.

    “”I have the impression that historically we took for granted that our natural connection with Mexico and Latin America didn’t require any formal institutional effort,”” he said.

    The UA is not the first U.S. university to establish an office in Mexico. Currently, the University of California, Tulane University and Oklahoma State University have offices in Mexico, he said.

    “”We were a little bit late, I might say,”” he said.

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