In May, Marlboro College signed a collaboration agreement with the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP), in central Mexico, for academic and research exchanges. The agreement will ensure that future students and faculty from both institutions can spend time at the other to conduct research and take courses in their areas of interest.
“This exchange agreement with UASLP offers another exciting opportunity for students to study off the hill,” said Richard Glejzer, provost and dean of faculty. “We have three exchange programs in Europe now (Germany, Czech Republic, and Slovakia), and one in China—this will be our first in Latin America.”
Rosario de Swanson, professor of Spanish language and literature, was instrumental in making the UASLP agreement a reality. Responding to President Kevin Quigley’s call to broaden Marlboro’s presence on the international stage, Rosario proposed a preliminary list of four institutions in Mexico where she had collaborated with colleagues. Richard and Maggie Strassman, director of international services, researched each of their offerings and the logistical feasibility of an exchange, and settled on UASLP as the most compatible with Marlboro’s strengths and mission.
“Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosí stood out for the beauty of the region,” said Rosario. She also found that, like Marlboro, UASLP values interdisciplinary perspectives and curricular innovation. They also offer several programs unavailable at Marlboro, including geography, archaeology, paleontology, and organic farming. “The city of San Luis Potosi is a jewel of the Baroque period, and our students would love walking around the plazas and exploring the different natural and geological regions in the area.”
Fortunately, Marlboro’s counterparts at UASLP, including President Manuel Fermin Villar Rubio and Alicia Cabrero Lobato, director of internationalization, were also just as eager to initiate a relationship, and negotiations ensued very rapidly last spring. After a Skype conversation in March, everyone was impressed with what they had learned and Richard and Rosario were invited to sign a collaboration agreement during a two-day visit in May.
“Our visit surpassed my expectations,” said Rosario. “My personal impression is that they are very warm and authentic; they are also elegant and cosmopolitan at the same time—not an ounce of arrogance that is common in academia. Even the president was genuine and charming. They were very generous with their time, and proud of all their accomplishments.”
“Exchange opportunities like this are especially important since they don’t cost students much more—and sometimes less—than studying at Marlboro,” said Richard. “With exchanges, students get to keep their federal and Marlboro financial aid, which means that it’s much more affordable than going on a program sponsored by another institution.”
The exchange program with UASLP is a valuable addition for Marlboro students, who could go for a summer language program or a whole semester in support of their Plan, and Marlboro looks forward to hosting students from Mexico as well. Rosario’s colleagues at UASLP are also interested in hosting Marlboro faculty and engaging in research collaborations. While national attention continues to be directed toward building a wall between the U.S. and it’s southern neighbor, Marlboro is looking forward to building bridges with colleagues in Mexico.