Yale delegation strengthens ties with Mexico

In a May visit to Mexico, Yale President Richard Levin announced a joint scholarship program for Mexican doctoral students, but the Mexican press was more interested in one of Levin’s fellow travelers.

The Yale delegation’s trip was particularly notable because the new head of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, former Mexico president Ernesto Zedillo, made his first public appearance in Mexico since leaving office in December 2000.

In addition to announcing Yale’s partnership with Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology to grant Mexican doctoral admittees to Yale a tuition waiver, Levin and Zedillo also met with current Mexican President Vicente Fox. In addition, Yale officials met with high-ranking government officials and leaders of Mexican higher education institutes.

While Levin said the trip had been planned over a year ago while Strobe Talbott was still the head of the globalization center, Zedillo was nonetheless a magnet for the Mexican press.

“It was incredible,” Levin said. “It was actually a little scary [at the alumni gathering] because the crowd of journalists was so loud and so aggressive that we had to take a detour and go through the kitchen to get to the stage.”

Gustav Ranis, director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, said the press probably would have liked to have heard more from Zedillo.

“He talked mainly about globalization. He did not talk about local politics,” Ranis said. “It was just a tremendous amount of interest.”

University Secretary Linda Lorimer focused on the timing of Zedillo’s comments.

“We were particularly honored that he used the Yale occasion to give his first set of remarks after leaving office,” Lorimer said.

Also on the trip, art history professor and Saybrook College Master Mary Miller presented the Mexican government with the Bonampak Documentation Project, a large scale data compilation of the Maya site in Chiapas, Mexico.

“That was really quite extraordinary,” Lorimer said. “Part of the trip was to give the Mexican authorities a full copy of all of her work so that effectively the people of Mexico would have the full benefit of the work of her research team, which included Mexican scholars.”

Members of the Yale delegation had individual meetings with Mexico’s senior administration, and a reception was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City that Lorimer called “the largest congregation of Yale graduates in Mexico perhaps of all time.”

A lunch meeting was also held with representatives of all of Mexico’s major universities, Ranis said, to promote Yale’s various alliances with different Mexican institutions.

“We showed that Yale is really internationalizing and interested in relations with our neighbor to the south,” Ranis said.

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