Number 39, Fall 2002

UC goes to Mexico to set up 2nd foreign facility

UC MEXUS is working with the state and two UC entities to establish a physical presence in Mexico.

California House, London
California House, London

The UC Regents in July 2001 approved the concept of a California House, to be called Casa de California, in Mexico City – a concept Gov. Gray Davis endorsed during a UCLA meeting with UC officials and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

"California House in Mexico will bring the vast resources of the State of California and the University of California together in an effort to fuel education, tourism and trade opportunities," Davis said.

Casa de California will not only serve as Latin American headquarters for the UC Education Abroad Programs, a center for international students and a university relations office for the development of a UC alumni association in Mexico, it will provide a second home for UC MEXUS programs. UC also is partnering with the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, which helps promote relations between California and Mexico. While the University and UC MEXUS search out and facilitate research alliances with academic, industrial, and governmental research centers in Mexico, the Agency will foster new business investment from Mexico to California, and help California companies to enter or expand their presences in Mexico and Latin America.

"The already strong relationship between UC and Mexico will blossom in an extraordinary way with the establishment of this office," UC MEXUS Director Juan-Vicente Palerm told the Regents. "The creation of Casa de California will enable the University to enhance its relationships with Mexican universities, government and industry, as well as UC alumni, many of whom are in positions of leadership."

A Mexican facility, run by UCOP, would support the university's expanding academic, research and public service mission in Mexico, and its Mexican and UC researchers, many of whom work in cooperative relationships. Casa de California would be the UC's second overseas center. The first was California House in London.

"We want to identify alumni living in Mexico who have become lost to the campus alumni associations," said Brad Barber, UCOP assistant vice president of institutional advancement. "The center will also provide a locus for post doctoral researchers and visiting scholars who have had associations with the campuses and are now living and working in Mexico."

Like the London facility, Casa de California would provide a site for conferences, classes, receptions, and other academic and social events. In addition, the house will provide alumni associations - in Mexico and in California - with a venue and a meeting place. Literature, alumni newsletters and other resources produced locally would be more relevant.

"A local contact person would be better able to construct a Website that would appeal to local alumni," said James E. Stofan, UCOP director of alumni affairs. "(The facility) will act as a catalyst in a number of ways - all to the benefit of the University."

Casa de California will support expansion of University Education Abroad Programs, said Bruce Hanna, EAP director of strategic marketing and communications.

"The facility will provide an attractive venue in central Mexico City for EAP to host innovative academic programs," he said. "It would enable EAP to provide seminars and design programs particularly suited to the needs of UC students."

In addition, UC students will benefit from interaction with other tenants, such as UC and the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency. EAP hopes such exposure will enhance students' intellectual growth and may open the door to concrete learning experiences, such as internships and joint projects with researchers, he said.

"We hope to convene key intellectuals, artists, officials, and representatives of higher education institutions to address compelling issues affecting Mexico and California and explore approaches toward their resolution," said John Marcum, director of EAP and associate provost for international academic activities.

The UC Academic Planning Council has shown acute interest in UC facilities abroad and their role in enhancing UC students' experiences.

"Council members and Provost C. Judson King have commented on the growing importance of international education to prepare UC graduates for leadership in an increasingly interconnected world," Marcum said.

A UC task force, which King appointed and Palerm chairs, is guiding development of a plan for the facility and has made an offer on a site in Chamalistac, a historical area of Mexico City. In addition to Palerm, Barber, Associate Vice chancellor for Information Resources and Communications Jim Dolgonas, Marcum and Vice Provost of Academic Initiatives Julius Zelmanowitz serve on the task force.

The creation of the center builds on the interest sparked by the cooperation and exchange agreement UC MEXUS has built with Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology.

"Casa de California will be an excellent place for the best minds from both nations to work together to research and solve issues of common concern," Palerm said

PHOTO: California House
LONDON – Opened in 1999, UC’s first facility abroad sits in a quiet St. James backwater adjacent to Mayfair and behind the elegant shopping street, Piccadilly. Within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, the house serves as an alumni center, promotes and facilitates research alliances with European academic, industrial and governmental research and development centers and houses the Education Abroad Program. UC shares the facility with the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency.