Regents approve funding for research and academic partnership with Mexico

AUSTIN — The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday approved allocating $5 million to help support a partnership with Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology. The goal of the partnership is to establish and enhance ties with Mexico and work together to create new academic and research programs.

In August 2015, UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven signed a memorandum of understanding with the council — also known as CONACYT — at a ceremony at UT San Antonio. Today’s action approves UT System’s contribution to the partnership. CONACYT will also provide significant funding — approximately a three-to-one match — of UT System’s investment. The opportunity to draw significant financial resources to UT System institutions from Mexico was a key motivator for the board's approval of the partnership.

The agreement signed last year provides a legal framework for the System’s 14 institutions to collaborate with CONACYT to develop a wide variety of STEM-related research and academic programs for faculty and students. Several UT System institutions currently have existing relationships with CONACYT for research collaboration and student funding.

“Mexico is more than just our friend,” McRaven said while signing the agreement. “Each one of our academic and health institutions benefits from our proximity to and relationship with Mexico, and the same can be said of Texas itself. Our partnership with CONACYT is essential to building a knowledge exchange to make new discoveries in science, health care and technology.”

The agreement enables joint academic programs to be developed in STEM fields such as applied math and modeling; biology and chemistry; biochemistry and agricultural sciences; earth, coastal and marine sciences; energy; environment; industrial manufacturing technologies; information technology and telecommunications; materials; medicine and health; nanotechnology; and space sciences and technologies.

Programs supported through the agreement include Mexican Ph.D. student education at UT System institutions, exchange of postdoctoral fellows, exchange of students and faculty and collaborative research projects. The funding approved by the board provides program and administration support for four years.

“This agreement provides research opportunities in many areas critical to both the U.S. and Mexico,” said Steven Leslie, Ph.D., UT System’s executive vice chancellor of academic affairs. “There is great potential for collaboration in areas such as space technology, the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal environment and medicine and health at the border.”

The System and CONACYT will also organize missions for professors, students and professionals to work on mutual projects; develop workshops, conferences and seminars focusing on common areas; and exchange, as appropriate, scientific and technological information.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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