Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi School and UNAM Celebrate Continuing and Deepening Ties

“This is an important landmark in our efforts to build a strong relationship with such an important country as Mexico”
Eric Mankin
September 11, 2010 —

Consul Mendoza , Dean Yortsos, Dean Guerrero
The continuing relationship between the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) was celebrated September 10, 2010, in a meeting aimed at not only enhancing existing ties but brroadening them to include other USC schools.

Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos recalled the 2008 visit of Viterbi deans and faculty to Mexico City, which initiated a program of exchanges and other ties -- a program which led most recently to three UNAM undergraduates spending summer at USC as research interns. "Mexico is an obvious place for USC to collaborate," he noted, "and UNAM is the oldest university on the continent. And Mexico City and Los Angeles share numerous common problems, such as megacities."

Mexican Deputy Consul General Juan Marcos Mendoza noted that this year is the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence, and the 124th year since the establishment of a Mexican consultate in Los Angeles.  "We need to communicate for the common future. We can both learn from each other."

UNAM Dean of Engineering Gonzalo Guerrero noted growing problems in Mexico, and shadows these cast on UNAM, which highlighted the importance of education in general and the USC relationship in particular.: "Education is the best, perhaps the only way to go forward," he said, "Two plus two can equal more than four."

Viterbi School Associate Professor Francisco Valero-Cuevas, a Mexico City native who at age 19 received a scholarship to study in the U.S. and was instrumental in facilitating the December 2008 agreement looked forward to  broadening the USC-UNAM interaction space, "to the arts and music, medical  science and more. Engineering is the start, but we hope to expand."

Speakers (from left) Valero-Cuevas, McGillivrary, Mendoza, Yortsos, Guerrero, Starr

His hopes were echoed by newly appointed USC Vice-Provost for Globalization Ken McGillivray. "It's very exciting to be here. The senior leadershp of USC," he said, including Dean Yortsos and President C. L. Max Nikias, "are most committed to globalization.

USC specialist Pamela Starr drew on her years spent living in and studying Mexico to note that while Mexicans are continually aware of the influence of USC in their country, "most Americans don't realize how wide the impact of  Mexico  is on their lives. We want to expand the USC-UNAM relationship," she said, "and thank engineering for taking the first  steps.

Also on hand  were two other representatives of UNAM, Professor Ricardo Vidal, the coordinator for Academic and Social Initiatives for the School of Engineering and Professor Jesús M. Dorador, Director, Mechatronic Engineering; and two other representatives from the consulate: Alejandro Pelayo, Consul for Cultural Affairs, and Alberto Espinosa, Consul for Interinstitutional Affairs

Besides Yortsos, McGlllivray and Starr, the USC presence included Viterbi School associate deans Raghu Raghavendra, Kelly Goulis, and Margeri Berti; department chairs Sandy Sawchuk (EE) and Norberto Grzywacz (BME) and Mork Family Department Professor Iraj Ershaghi, director of the Viterbi School Petroleum Engineering Program, along with Professor Giselle Petzinger of the Keck Medical School Department of Neurology.

Deepening bonds: front row: Goulis, Mendoza, Yortsos, Guererro, Starr, Valero-Cuevas, Espinosa,  Back row: Sawchuk, Ershaghi, Pelayo, Raghavendra, Grzywacz,, Vidal, Berti, Dorador, Petzinger.