Inspired by the potential for collaboration to benefit students, Arizona Board of Regents member Cecilia Mata, who was born and educated in Panama, facilitated meetings between leaders of Northern Arizona University and Panamanian universities to connect academic strengths. Today, leaders from the universities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Panama, creating new educational opportunities and cross-cultural collaboration.
Two MOUs with Universidad Interamericana de Panamá and Universidad Latina de Panamá will advance cooperation in health care, education, supply chain management and other industries that are increasingly critical to a global society. Earlier today, Provost Karen Pugliesi signed the MOUs on behalf of NAU, with Universidad Latina de Panamá Provost Mirna de Crespo and Universidad Interamericana de Panamá Provost Eneida Lopez.
“NAU aims to be the nation’s preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility and driver of social impact by delivering equitable postsecondary value in Arizona and beyond,” NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera said. “Preparing students to be part of the global economy is a top priority for NAU, and a critical piece of that engagement is ensuring students from all backgrounds, identities and lived experiences have opportunities for international work and study. This is an important step in that direction.”
The MOUs with both universities will foster NAU’s mission to produce global citizens and provide many opportunities, such as:
- Mutual student exchange programs
- Possible joint degree programs in business, engineering and education
- Exploring connections with K-12 school systems in Panama for NAU teacher training and study abroad programs
- Potential study abroad program in logistics chain management in Panama, including unique opportunities related to operations and management of the Panama Canal
- Possible collaboration on a health care MBA
- Exploration of international internship opportunities in Panama, especially for business major students and IGP (Interdisciplinary Global Program) students
“Through this understanding, Northern Arizona University, Universidad Latina and Universidad Interamericana de Panamá will expand the international educational opportunities offered to students, faculty and staff at each institution,” said Regent Mata. “As an individual who earned two degrees in Panama, I know firsthand the value of cross-cultural education. Through the dual-degree and exchange programs, NAU students will be better prepared to work in our globally connected world.”
Jose Barrios Ng, chairman of the board and CEO of EXSUSA, worked with Regent Mata and NAU officials and was instrumental in fostering partnerships with the two universities in Panama.
The delegation’s visit to Panama continues through Saturday and includes visits with leaders from business, engineering and education to discuss potential research and collaborations. Meetings are taking place with:
- Eduardo Ortega, general director of SENACYT (National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation)
- Minister Jose Alejandro Rojas at the Presidency of the Republic of Panama
- Jorge Barnett, general director of Georgia Tech Innovation & Research Center Panama
There also will be working academic sessions with Universidad Latina and Universidad Interamericana de Panamá. In addition to Regent Mata and Provost Pugliesi, NAU’s delegation includes Yimin Wang, vice provost for global affairs; Ramona Mellott, dean of the College of Education; Ashok Subramanian, dean of The W. A. Franke College of Business; Andy Wang, dean of the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences; and Cesar Flores, executive director of the Center for International Education.