UT and Mexico finalize agreement to expand academic resource exchange

Matthew Adams

UT and the government of Mexico have extended an agreement to expand academic resources on both sides of the border.

President Gregory Fenves and UT System Chancellor William McRaven met with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade on campus Thursday to finalize the agreement.

Paloma Diaz-Lobos, scholarly programs director for the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies Benson, said the program first began in the early 2000s to bring a distinguished professor from Mexico to teach at UT.

Since then, Diaz-Lobos said six professors have taught humanities and social science courses at the University for a semester during the last 10 years.

Under the new agreement, Diaz-Lobos said the program is being modified to bring in more professors over a shorter period of time.

“Instead of having a single professor, we will have up to 10 short-term distinguished researchers who will come and work with UT faculty across all campuses,” Diaz-Lobos said.

According to a University Communications press release, the agreement focuses on supporting STEM fields—science, technology, engineering  and mathematics—because research, teaching and student exchanges are expanding between the two sides.

Diaz-Lobos said Fenves and the Mexican government started working on the agreement a couple of months ago. With the changes to the program, she said one advantage will be providing opportunities not only for professors but also for students in their various levels of education.

“In the previous format, we only had a visiting professor come for a semester,” Diaz-Lobos said. “[Now] we can bring in graduate students, junior researchers, etc.”

Susanna Sharpe, communication coordinator for LLILAS Benson, said the agreement is automatically renewed every four years unless a major amendment occurs.   

LLILAS Benson director Charles Hale said in a statement that the program is important for educational opportunities but also for the relationship between Texas and Mexico.

“The agreement strikes an ideal balance, reflecting the strategic interests of educational collaboration both of UT and of our Mexican counterparts,” Hale said in the statement. “Strengthened relations of horizontal academic collaboration between the UT System and Mexican institutions of higher education are vital and will also encourage advancements in other realms of Texas-Mexico relations.”

Consul General of Mexico Carlos González Gutiérrez said in a press release the agreement would affect both economics and social connections, while also being Meade's top priority to discuss the expansion of an exchange of academic resources with McRaven and Fenves.

“UT has been the driver of economic growth in Austin and is the alma mater of thousands of Mexicans,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “It is only natural that in visiting Austin, Secretary Meade would give a high priority to this meeting with Chancellor McRaven and President Fenves.”