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Monday, April 7, 2014


U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Lauds Bilateral Education and Research


Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne




Undersecretary Alcocer,

FOCUS Students,




Dear friends and partners in the field of educational exchange,


It is an honor to welcome all of you here tonight to celebrate the second year of the FOCUS partnership and what it represents in the broader spectrum of ongoing bilateral collaboration and success in the area of academic exchange and joint research and innovation.


President Peña-Nieto and President Obama’s May 2013 announcement of the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research launched a partnership that is unequalled in its scope and energy.  Over the past ten months, Undersecretary Alcocer and I have been busy on the speaking circuit, engaging audiences throughout the United States and Mexico on how we can increase educational exchange and joint research as the foundation of our future regional prosperity. I couldn’t have a better partner in this effort.  Thank you, Sergio, for your untiring commitment to this cause and for being such a great partner and friend.


Sergio, I think you will agree that our speeches usually tend to focus on the real challenges that we have set for ourselves in increasing the numbers of Mexican and U.S. students studying across the border.  But tonight I’d like to celebrate our successes and thank all of you, our invaluable partners in academia, civil society, and the private sector, for your innovation and engagement in the future leaders of our region.


So what have we accomplished since May of last year?


On the part of the governments, we have placed education at the top of our bilateral priorities.  We have worked closely together to encourage key sectors to reexamine what is possible in the areas of academic exchange and joint research and innovation.  As many of you know, we have hosted three working groups, one here in Mexico, and two in the United States, to focus on the specific issues of promoting student exchange, workforce development, and the special potential of the border.


And we are planning three more to review language acquisition, student mobility, and joint research and innovation.


Most importantly, we have worked diligently to move beyond rhetoric to concrete action, with defined steps that we can take to work with key partners like you to increase academic partnership and exchange.


In doing so, we have created an environment where education is a priority and exchange is a given.  Over the past weeks, we have welcomed delegations from Los Angeles, Massachusetts, and Arizona – all of which featured discussion of academic exchange as the foundation for our future shared regional prosperity.  University of California President Janet Napolitano has made academic exchange with Mexico a priority issue and great ideas and initiatives are benefitting from her leadership.


Similar efforts are underway with the University of Texas system, which continues to be a model in providing in-state tuition to Mexican students. 


Last week, Mexico City hosted the President of MIT for the first time in 29 years.  Rectors of La Salle universities from both sides of the border met for the first time last week in Cuernavaca.  In February, Arkansas State University broke ground on the first U.S. public university campus in Mexico.


Organizations like Televisa and Universia are committing money, energy, and creativity to new and renewed partnerships with U.S. counterparts that will send hundreds of Mexican students to the United States on summer programs.  Meanwhile, the city of Puebla and members of its private universities’ consortium are planning an innovative program to bring U.S. students to Mexico for short-term, low-cost summer programs.


And that is just the tip of the “iceberg.”  New, exciting partnerships are developing faster than either of our governments can keep track of.  


Whether as representatives of U.S. universities, presidents of alumni associations, leaders at Mexican institutes of higher learning, or partners from the private sector and civil society, I know that many of you in this room are the driving force behind these new initiatives.  Thank you for all that you are doing to ensure that our future generations speak each other’s languages, know each other’s cultures, and understand how to work effectively together.  I would ask that you keep us abreast of all of your accomplishments as we want to continue to highlight your efforts in the context of the Bilateral Forum.


As the months roll on, some of our new partnerships are turning into lasting partnerships.  This is the case for the Forum for Cooperation, Understanding and Solidarity (or FOCUS in English), a program started by students at ITAM and Stanford to create a network of young leaders who could work together to address bilateral political, economic, and technological issues in an innovative way.   This year, the program has grown significantly to include partners at other U.S. and Mexican universities.  In doing so, it serves as a model of how a strong partnership cannot help but grow, and how visionary leadership cannot be contained within a limited space.  The FOCUS students here represent the very best of our next generation.


It is an honor to have you here tonight, and I look forward to hearing more about the success of this program in 2014.


I will stop here, as I wanted to let Sergio say a few words before passing the microphone to our role models of bilateral cooperation, our FOCUS students.


Thank you again for being here tonight and for all that each of you does to bring Mexico and the United States closer together in the most important sector of all – education.



Press release, remarks by U.S. Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne at the Education Reception with FoCUS Students (Forum for Cooperation, Understanding and Solidarity), Apr. 1, 2014; Embassy of the United States, Mexico City

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