ASU chief wants ties to Mexico
Republic Mexico City
Feb. 23, 2004 12:00 AM
MEXICO CITY - Arizona State University professors could teach students as far
away as Argentina, and ASU students could earn degrees that prepare them for
international careers under a partnership being forged with a prestigious
It's part of ASU President Michael Crow's vision of the "New American
University," a multilayered effort to lift ASU into the ranks of the most
up-to-date research universities in the United States. Crow's plan reaches into
many areas, including the university's partnerships with government and
business, and its research focus on problems specific to Arizona.
One part of the plan is the Pan-American initiative, an effort to make ASU the
foremost school for research on the U.S.-Mexico border and on Latin America. An
accompanying Asian initiative seeks partnerships between ASU and Pacific Rim
governments and businesses to serve the needs of developing industries there.
"Our two principal foci for global engagement are China and Latin America," Crow
said. "China, because of its economic power and unequivocal linkage to the U.S.
economy. With Latin America, it's more a matter of connecting with neighbors
that we should have been more connected with a long time ago."
The partnership with the Monterrey Technological Institute of Advanced Studies,
widely regarded as one of the best universities in Mexico, will include three
main efforts: aligning their civil, industrial and biotechnology engineering
curricula so students can earn either double or concurrent degrees; taking
advantage of each school's distance learning networks to reach more Hispanic
students in the United States and more Latin American students on the rest of
the continent; and building joint centers to study the problems of the border
and the ways in which industry and business on each side of the border best
complement each other.
Crow and a delegation of ASU professors met with their counterparts at El Tec,
as the institute is popularly known, in Monterrey last month. It was part of a
series of encounters between the two schools that has been going on for about a
Tec President Rafael Rangel Sostmann says most of the schools' joint plans
should be in place within 18 months, and if the partnership works, it should be
seamless within five years.
Crow has been impressed with Tec's extensive distance learning network, which
consists of a web of community centers where students in countries as far away
as Chile and Argentina can take classes from teachers based in Monterrey. Crow
said that through sharing content, ASU professors might someday take advantage
of that network.
Rangel Sostmann said he sees opportunities to bring Tec's college courses to
Hispanics at ASU's campuses.
According to Crow's plan, described in the report "The New American University,"
the networks also may provide an opening for ASU to improve American
understanding of countries beyond the southern U.S. border. He envisions
interdisciplinary studies that focus not only on culture and society but aim to
improve scientific and technological knowledge and to apply it to practical
problems, like the struggle against poverty and the promotion of sustainable
Tec has parallel accreditation agreements with some schools in Texas, Rangel
Sostmann said, and putting together a program that allows future civil and
industrial engineers to earn double degrees from Tec and ASU should not be
But Rangel Sostmann wants to take the relationship a step further: to craft
programs that allow students to attend both schools during their university
careers and earning one degree that reflects expertise from both sides of the
border. Both schools have strong construction engineering areas, for example,
and civil engineers that come out of a joint program should be able to work
anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
Crow said similarities between Phoenix and Monterrey - in size, educational
capability and business orientation - make the partnership a natural.
"The Phoenix metro area and ASU have had very limited interactions with Mexico,
at least at the level that they should be happening," Crow said. "We should have
more broad policy, education, research and economic initiatives. We needed to
find a partnership that can help us to move in that direction."
Crow said that as the relationship intensifies, other departments at ASU are
taking an interest. At the January meeting, members of the journalism department
attended for the first time to see if there was room to combine areas of both
programs. Crow said he wants to explore more of those possibilities.
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