UT expanded its international sphere of influence in Mexico earlier this month with the opening of an office in Mexico City as well as a new research partnership with a top Mexican university.
The new office and partnership are the latest in a long history of collaboration and shared research between UT and Mexican educational and scientific institutions. UT researchers have worked with those in Mexico on various projects for more than 50 years, according to a press release. The two additions were announced one day apart, on Nov. 16 and 17.
Working with scholars in Mexico will help UT researchers gain vital perspectives in attempts to tackle common issues, UT President Gregory Fenves said in a press release.
“For decades, UT has worked closely with Mexican scholars, as well as with public and private sector stakeholders on educational programs and research,” Fenves said. “By opening (the Mexico City office), the University plans to become an even closer partner with Mexico, building on existing relationships and developing new ones to expand opportunities in education and research.”
The new office, based out of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, will serve as the home of the University of Texas at Austin-Mexico Institute, a nonprofit founded in May that focuses on scientific research and cultural studies.
A day after the announcement of the new office, UT also signed a partnership with Monterrey Tech, a top Mexican university that UT officials have been collaborating with for almost 50 years. The partnership will focus on developing a more environmentally friendly, sustainable electric energy plan for Mexico.
“If we want to transform our country and bring about economic growth and competitiveness, we need to create alliances with international institutions that are active game-changers in the global landscape, such as UT Austin,” Monterrey Tech President Salvador Alva said in a press release. “We are delighted with the strengthening of a relationship that will generate joint world-class research, education and long-lasting impact to our societies.”
UT’s move to connect further with Mexico comes in a moment of tension between American and Mexican officials. President Donald Trump has hinted that the U.S. may drop out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a bilateral trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that was formed more than 30 years ago.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed last month to stand as a united front in future negotiations and said they would oppose a proposed dissolution of the trade agreement, Bloomberg reported.
UT Director of Communications Joe Williams said agreements regarding the recent expansions in Mexico were in the works for a while, but were finalized just before Thanksgiving break when UT officials traveled to Mexico to discuss them in person.
Williams said increasing connections to Mexico are part of a broader plan to expand UT’s influence and international connections.
“This is actually just an example of our mission to connect our faculty, staff and students with Mexico and institutions across the globe,” Williams said.