Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in northeast Mexico, Monterrey has a population of more than 4.5 million people and is considered the 9th largest city in the world. Serving as a center for industry for the northern part of Mexico, Monterrey is also home to the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey—more commonly known as Monterrey Tec—which has an incredibly robust program of partnership and innovation to serve tens of thousands of students on its 26 campuses spread throughout Mexico.
One of the highest ranking private universities in Mexico, Monterrey Tec welcomed us warmly from the moment we arrived last night. On the table in my hotel room, I found a plate of dried fruit with a note that read, “Welcome! Have a ‘sweet’ stay in Monterrey. Best regards, Jaime Bonilla, Associate Dean for Continuing Studies and International Affairs.”
A chemical engineer by training, Dr. Bonilla was one of the first faces we saw when we arrived on campus this morning.
Our conversations throughout the day focused on the possibility of collaboration between and among different schools at Monterrey Tec and IUPUI. This conversation has its roots in a number of existing partnerships between our campus and theirs. For instance, the School of Dentistry has a partnership with Monterrey Tec led by Dr. Michael Kowolik that includes a newly developed student exchange as part of this effort.
Dr. Kowolik has a connection to Monterrey Tec that dates back to the late 1980s, so his presence as a member of the IUPUI delegation provided an important historical perspective. Dr. Kowolik and Dr. Gabriel Chu, also from the School of Dentistry, arrived earlier this week to begin meetings with colleagues.
In addition, McKinney School of Law also has a history of collaboration with Monterrey Tec, particularly through the branch campus of Tec in Chihuahua. Professor Frank Emmert, John S. Grimes Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Center for International and Comparative Law, has offered a number of classes in Chihuahua. He began his meetings with colleagues yesterday.
The day included a tour of the Robotics Lab, mechanical engineering and bioengineering facilities, a discussion with colleagues in bioengineering, and a question and answer period with students who were interested in study abroad opportunities.
I should add here that the campus of Monterrey Tec has a magical quality, with free roaming deer and peacocks.
The sculpture on the grounds and adorning the facilities—murals affixed to exterior building walls and free-standing artworks—gave me the sense of freedom I often feel when I open myself up to creative possibilities.
While IUPUI is a public American university campus and Monterrey Tec is a private Mexican university, possibility and potential are at the heart of both of our institutions.
Both of us are committed to providing the highest quality education to our students, and we are also looking for ways to make significant positive impact on industry and the community through research and service opportunities.
These qualities tie together the very best institutions from around the world and remind me why I love my job. Through my work, I support one of the most optimistic, world-changing systems in the history of mankind, built on the belief that all of us can improve ourselves and our world through education.
With that lofty statement about education in mind, I will end with a series of lessons learned this evening:
- If there is a large van in front of your hotel, don’t assume it is going to the wedding you plan to attend. A group of five people gleefully boarded our van to dinner and were slow to leave when they heard we weren’t travelling to the nuptials they were planning to celebrate. Strangely, one of them chanted “Buckeyes” as he was leaving, and we began chanting “Jaguars” back, at least that’s how I remember it.
- If you are sharing a meal with someone at a restaurant, don’t assume that the other person has ordered said meal. You might end up with nothing to eat.
Special thanks tonight go to Dr. Aida Rodríguez, who went to such great lengths to arrange this visit for our delegation, who was the most gracious host, and who only laughed warmly when she said, “Did you order for us?” and I replied “No, I thought you did.”
Tomorrow we have the privilege of meeting with David Garza, Rector of Monterrey Tec.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you return for my next and last blog post about this remarkable trip to Mexico.