By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
A consortium of 24 U.S. college/university presidents, member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and four presidents from Mexican colleges/universities gathered in Mexico March 29-31 to explore opportunities among the private colleges and universities.
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, was among those who attended the educational summit titled “Reaffirming the North American Spirit of Collaboration in Higher Education: Creating Bridges of Communication.”
This summit has been in the works for more than two years, she noted. “Our conversations were nonpartisan educational exchanges. We take no positions in political elections and do not affiliate with one party over the other.”
Sr. Lescinski said the summit’s purpose was to explore bridges between American and Mexican private universities. “I went to see if there could be more opportunities for exchanges between ourselves and institutions in Mexico that had similar missions. Most of the Mexican universities with whom we interacted were Catholic, so there was a natural convergence of values and missions between them and St. Ambrose University. It is my hope that we would be able to have both faculty and student exchanges with one or more of these universities.”
Currently, St. Ambrose University does not have students from Mexico studying in Davenport. “We do have a growing number of Mexican-American students,” Sr. Lescinski said. And the university does not at the present time have students studying in Mexico. “We have sent students who minored in Spanish to Merida, Mexico, in the past,” she noted. “Next spring we will send a student to Guadalajara, Mexico.”
St. Ambrose is in the early stages of developing a partnership with the Technological University of Xicotepec Juarez. “Our local Rotary District 6000 has been active in Xicotepec for more than a decade, and we are looking at ways to team up with both Rotary and with UTXJ in Xicotepec,” Sr. Lescinski said.
Concerns about obtaining visas also were addressed during the visit to Mexico. Sr. Lescinski and others met at the home of the U.S. Consul General in Guadalajara “where we discussed her willingness to facilitate visas for Mexican students and faculty to which we all expressed our sincere appreciation.”
Although no partnerships have been established, Sr. Lescinski said initial conversations open up that possibility. “Steve Bahls, president of Augustana College (in Rock Island, Ill.) and I will continue to hold conversations about how we might continue to partner between St. Ambrose and Augustana.”