SFU bolsters Latin American engagements

October 31, 2019

Simon Fraser University has had longstanding relationships in Latin America, and last week I had the opportunity to expand and extend these during a five-day visit to Mexico and Colombia.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend the Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE), a forum that every two years brings together representatives of higher education institutions, educational organizations and governments to exchange knowledge, discuss challenges, and promote best practices in international education in the Americas.

CAIE is organized by the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE), of which SFU is also a member.

SFU was well represented at the forum, and I was able, both to bring greetings from the University at a jam-packed Canada Reception, and to take part in a plenary panel on “Engaged Universities: Innovation and Development.” My panel presentation focused on SFU’s vision to be Canada’s Engaged University, highlighting the success of SFU Innovates - our university-wide innovation strategy.

During the trip, I and others from SFU visited a number of leading universities in Mexico City, Bogotá and Medellín, where we reviewed existing relationships and explored new partnership possibilities. We also met with Canada’s ambassadors to Mexico and Colombia to learn more about Canadian government programs and plans in the region, and to share information on the role of SFU and other Canadian universities in Latin America.

To top it all, we took advantage of a one-day trip to Medellin to visit Ruta N, the city’s remarkable innovation hub, and to investigate its extensive use of gondolas as a means of public transit. The city has five gondola lines within its integrated transit system, and a sixth is under construction.   

While relatively short, the trip was busy and productive, and I am confident will help to raise SFU’s profile and advance our relationships in Latin America.

We also used the opportunity to promote the Asia Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) conference and exhibition that SFU will host in Vancouver from March 22-26 next year. Based on the positive responses we received, I am optimistic that we will see many advanced education institutions from the Americas, and their presidents, attending APAIE 2020.