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Bogotá delegation makes its mark

Bogotá delegation makes its mark

(August 6, 2013) Last month, UTSA’s global reach focused on Bogotá, thriving eight million population capitol metropolis of new U.S. Free Trade partner Colombia, and an example of society emerging successfully from its past drug-crime fueled insecurity. Education and Economic Development policy were on the agenda, for the UTSA delegation led by President Ricardo Romo.

While UTSA was in Bogotá, the Colombian Senate convened an International Educational Forum for input on best practices to reform their federal education law. UTSA was invited to give the primary testimony, sharing its experiences as a young and highly ranked institution. Times Higher Education ranks UTSA among the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years old.

Accompanying President Romo were VP Community Services Jude Valdez, Interim VP Research Mauli Agrawal, Mexico Center/CAPRI Director Harriett Romo, and AVP for Economic Development Robert McKinley.

U.S. foreign policy in Latin America is recalibrating its approach to find a better balance of security and prosperity interventions. As gains are made reducing crime and insecurity, the emerging middle classes are seeking more opportunities in education and economic development.

UTSA is growing its reputation by addressing such issues as Hispanic higher education attainment, mainstreaming first generation students, and building a strong applied research and innovation profile, as well as world-class economic development programs. These themes resonate with Latin American universities and governments, who want to tap UTSA’s experience.

While in Bogotá, the UTSA delegation stopped at the opening event of UTSA’s four-month Certificate Program for Colombian economic development professionals. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program will help Colombian small businesses to compete in global markets.

Under the U.S. State Department’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative, UTSA has been engaged to transfer the SBDC methodology and work with Economic Ministries of 15 western hemisphere nations to date. These new networks of SBDCs become partners and market distribution channels for our Texas and U.S. small businesses to expand trade. In South America, UTSA is engaging with Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Learn more about UTSA’s role in building the President’s “Small Business Network of the Americas” initiative.

Immediately following opening speeches, the Certificate Course began, led by UTSA’s International Trade Center Director Cliff Paredes, and Sr. Trade Specialist Monica Alcoz. Enrollment was 160 for the Bogotá course; the following week another 120 enrolled for the course in Cali. UTSA courses are programmed for Medellin and Barranquilla next January are expected to reach 400-500 economic developers across Colombia.

The UTSA delegation also convened with Bogotá’s Ministry of Education, and ASCUM, Colombia’s higher education association, similar to the American Council on Education. At the meetings, UTSA’s profile and interests were showcased to develop strategic alliances with key Colombian universities. Attracting top Colombian graduate students, faculty researchers in STEM fields, business and education disciplines were a key focus in addition to developing administrator connections.

On the second day of its trip to Colombia, UTSA attended the Senate’s International Educational Forum, led by Senator Efrain Torrado, who chairs the education oversight committee of congress, (Comision Sexta). The Forum welcomed 200 higher education leaders, was nationally televised in Colombia, and was positioned as the opened volley for education reform legislation as a priority for this year’s Colombian legislature.

At the Forum, UTSA offered nearly two hours of testimony on its rapid growth, and its goal of becoming a tier one university through high quality faculty and programs, research growth and industry collaboration, a modern campus community and student retention and success. Related themes were presented by the Ministra of Education, the Colombian Student Financial Aid authority, the national collegiate sports agency, university rectors, and also student testimony.

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The Institute for Economic Development is funded in part through the State of Texas and a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.