The day broke with a hint of sadness for me, knowing that this would be our last day in Mexico. Although the days are busy and long on trips such as these, they bring an intensity of focus and a feeling of accomplishment.
Meetings with our counterparts at institutions around the world are one important avenue to strengthen international ties and expand opportunities in education and research. Today was no exception.
I will note at the outset that our final meeting took place on a Saturday, not a typical day of business for universities in Mexico . . . or the United States, for that matter. Monterrey Tec Rector David Garza was presiding over a commencement ceremony at one of the other Tec campuses and was unavailable during our visit on Friday, January 19. He placed such a priority on this meeting—as did we—that he agreed to a Saturday visit. We very much appreciated his willingness to spend part of his weekend with us.
Dr. Garza has held his position as rector for a relatively short time and described to us his inaugural speech in which he identified innovation, investigation, and internationalization—the Three I’s—as his strategic priorities. In this, his priorities and those of Monterrey Tec align with a number of IUPUI’s strategic priorities, including our focus on accelerating innovation and discovery through research and creative activity, strengthening internationalization efforts, leveraging our strengths in health and life sciences.
Towards the end of our conversation, Dr. Garza asked us what stood out to us about our visit to Monterrey Tec. Chancellor Nasser Paydar mentioned the outstanding facilities and use of space. Associate Vice Chancellor Gil Latz mentioned that although he had heard a great many good things about the campus, it had far exceeded his expectations. Dr. Michael Kowolik from the School of Dentistry identified the exceptional students at Monterrey Tec as well as the opportunity for research partnerships.
What impressed me most about the campus was how welcomed the campus and its people made us feel. The spaces had a “Google” feel to them: wide open, comfortably designed for interaction and—sometimes—relaxation, with snacks at the ready.
The presentations we heard made me feel as if we were part of the projects. This was especially true in the Robotics Laboratory where three students presented their project focused on testing concentration levels with a headphone-type device with sensors situated near the test subjects’ temples.
And every person we encountered, from the undergraduate student making that presentation to the rector of the university, made me feel as if I belonged on that campus and hadn’t flown from over a thousand miles for a short visit. To me, this reflects the spirit of our own Welcoming Campus Initiative and serves as another tie between our two campuses.
However IUPUI’s relationship with Monterrey Tec develops, I will always remember Dr. Garza’s words towards the end of that meeting. He said that he really appreciated our visit, especially at this time. Years ago, no American universities reached out to Monterrey Tec. Only representatives from institutions in Europe came to the campus to talk about partnerships. In more recent years, people from American universities have been scheduling visits to discuss collaborations. For him, the timing of our visit meant a great deal especially because—as he put it—of the difficult national situation.
As we close our visit and head to the Monterrey International Airport, it’s difficult to determine where visits such as ours to Mexico will take us. Even with that uncertainty, it makes me proud to know that we put the work that we are doing educating students, conducting research, and partnering with the community above all else.
Thanks for joining the rest of the IUPUI delegation and me on this adventure. And so we close the IUPUI Goes to Mexico blog.