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UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman cuts the ribbon on the school's new Center for Mexican Studies alongside campus and center leadership
November 9, 2018

UMass Boston signs memorandum of understanding with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


  • Boston
Memorandum of understanding creates Center for Mexican Studies, exchange programs for students and faculty

UMass Boston signed a memorandum of understanding with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) last week, paving the way for faculty and student exchanges and cementing a relationship that includes a new Center for Mexican Studies, also called UNAM-Boston.

The celebration began with a ribbon cutting in the center space on the eighth floor of UMass Boston’s Joseph P. Healey Library and continued with a speaking program and signing of the MOU.

“Our federal government not withstanding, we here in Massachusetts are extremely grateful for the opportunity to attract so many brilliant young people who are coming here to learn what they can from our institutions and to enable the reciprocal movement of our young people to Mexico, a country with an incredibly rich native culture, incredibly rich Spanish culture, and which has enduring ties—and will always have enduring ties—to the United States,” UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman told the crowd gathered for the event.

UMass Boston Associate Provost and Director of the Office of Global Programs Cheryl Nixon said she will work with UNAM-Boston Director Carmen Alanis on creating student exchanges, bringing UNAM students here and giving UMass Boston students the opportunity to study at UNAM. UNAM has five national schools; the main campus in the southern part of Mexico City is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We also want to make sure we are doing some innovative programming, [such as] intensive language programming that we will do on a short-term basis,” Nixon said.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to have this opportunity to develop connections with Mexico, and to develop exchanges with faculty and students, and to just build this community,” said Susan Gauss, chair and associate professor of Latin American and Iberian studies.

UNAM has 13 centers for Mexican studies on four continents. Alanis, who has been on campus for the last seven months, has been working to get the word out about Mexico as a study destination.

“I visit a lot of universities and they are sending students to Argentina, to Spain, to learn Spanish, but we are neighbors. So let’s do it together,” Alanis said.

“It is through the academic exchange that global transformation has been achieved. In this, UMass Boston and UNAM have much to contribute,” said Ken Oyama, vice president of UNAM. “We connect knowledge, we connect minds, we connect souls, but at the end, we connect people from Mexico and the United States.”

Newman said the two universities have a lot in common.

“UNAM has a very long history of being a beacon of social change,” Newman said. “I think we are both committed to open exchange of ideas. We are both universities in which debate can take place, in which objection to policies we don’t agree with can be aired, in which the re-commitment to the central values of human rights can be established and re-established, as long as is needed.”

Students, researchers, and professors from Mexico who are working and studying at UMass Boston, Harvard, MIT, Mass General and many other area institutions attended the event.

“This is just the beginning of what our two countries can develop together through the extraordinary opportunities of a university education,” Newman said.