AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin President Gregory L. Fenves will lead a delegation of more than 40 faculty members, scholars and university leaders to Mexico City to expand relationships with Mexican universities and agencies, increase the number of cross-border research collaborations and develop new student exchange opportunities.
This week’s four-day visit will launch Fenves’ efforts to strengthen the university’s international programs. It will build on multiple research initiatives that UT Austin professors already have in place with Mexican counterparts and leverage Texas’ and Mexico’s joint interests in issues as diverse as energy, technology and the arts across the shared border.
About 400 Mexican nationals are enrolled at UT Austin, and nearly 100 of the university’s students study in Mexico each year.
“Mexico is our closest neighbor and one of our largest academic international partners. Our research partnerships with Mexico are essential to advancing knowledge and fostering discovery in many fields,” said Fenves, who has served as president since June. “UT has educated thousands of Mexican students, many of whom have become leaders in their communities and professions. And many UT Austin students have deepened their educations by studying in Mexico. These ties are vital to our ambitions as a leading research university.”
The delegation, the largest ever from the university to travel to a foreign country, includes deans and faculty members from more than a dozen colleges on campus including: Architecture, Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Geosciences, Law, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Natural Sciences, Public Affairs and Social Work as well as UT Press, the Blanton Museum of Art and other units.
In Mexico City, they will hold group and individual meetings with researchers and leaders at five Mexican universities and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Relations, Public Education and Energy, and CONACYT, a Mexican agency that promotes scientific exchange and supports graduate education.
“President Fenves’ focus on increasing collaborations and exchanges with Mexico is not only smart, it’s yet another step in ensuring that The University of Texas is the pre-eminent thought leader in the hemisphere,” said Antonio Garza, a UT Austin alumnus who has served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico and is currently president of the Texas Exes alumni group. “These efforts are key to driving research and discussions that will benefit regional competitiveness and security. They will help ensure that North America continues to lead in an uncertain world”
University of Texas researchers and departments regularly collaborate with colleagues across Latin America, Europe and Asia. The first ties to Mexico began more than 50 years ago when geoscientists began working with researchers at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
That partnership is still active today. This year, the universities will work together and with colleagues from England to drill below the seabed off the Yucatán Peninsula to take core samples from the Chicxulub crater that was created when an asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, wiping out all nonavian dinosaurs and clearing the way for the rise of mammals.
Such collaboration and exchanges make Mexico a natural destination for Fenves’ first trip as president.
“In a world that is increasingly interconnected and global, universities and their scholars must seek new ways to work across disciplines and cultures,” Fenves said. “This week’s trip to Mexico is a bold step in that direction for The University of Texas.”