Tilghman to travel to Brazil, Chile and Argentina

Building on the University’s efforts to expand its presence in Latin America, University President Shirley Tilghman and four of her colleagues in the administration will travel to South America over fall break to formalize arrangements for a strategic partnership with the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In her 2007 “Princeton in the World” report, Tilghman outlined the University’s plans to enhance its global presence in the face of a growing trend toward internationalization in higher education. In the past few years, Yale and New York University have made strides toward internationalization by opening campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, respectively. While the University has not announced any similar plans to open a branch campus, it has begun to develop a relationship with Brazil specifically over the past few years.

A formal signing ceremony, expected to take place next Wednesday between Tilghman and USP rector Joao Grandino Rodas, is one of several events scheduled during Tilghman’s weeklong visit.

Tilghman will be joined by University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Affairs Margaret Miller ’80 and anthropology professor Joao Biehl, who is Brazilian and conducts research on the country, will join Jeremy Adelman, a history professor who directs the Council for International Teaching and Research. They will arrive in Santiago, Chile on Sunday, Oct. 28 and return home from Buenos Aires, Argentina on Nov. 3.

During their stay, they will visit a host of universities and secondary schools in Santiago, Chile, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina and meet with alumni. But Adelman said the primary purpose of the trip is to strengthen University ties with peer institutions in Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

“We want to be engaged in deepening opportunities for students and faculty to move back and forth across borders within the programs and projects that the two universities codesign,” said Adelman, who devised the global partnership.

The USP partnership will build upon a longstanding academic relationship between the two universities. Last spring the Global Collaborative Networks fund awarded a grant to Biehl and Portuguese professor Pedro Meira Monteiro for a joint three-year faculty research project with USP.

The program, called “Race and Citizenship in the Americas,” offers a research platform for students and faculty to “discuss the interface of race and citizenship in Brazil in comparison to the United States,” Monteiro said. It is one of a handful of global network projects recognized by the Council for International Teaching and Research to promote collaborative scholarship across borders.

Adelman noted that a secondary purpose of the trip is to increase the University’s visibility among prospective undergraduate students in South America.

“We’ve not traditionally had big footprints in South America, and we’d like to be considered by the best students there,” Adelman said.

According to Adelman, the University decided to partner with USP specifically because it is ranked as the top institution of higher education in Latin America.

The University “is very concerned with partnering with institutions that have quality like ours,” Adelman said. He added that USP is unique in that it fosters “multidisciplinary engagement,” has a diversity of interests and is in a location that appeals to students.

During her stay, Tilghman will also attend a series of alumni gatherings in each of the four major cities. The Tigertones, an all-male a cappella group at the University, will perform at the events in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during their fall break trip to Brazil.

“It’s very exciting for us to have President Tilghman here,” Princeton Club of Brazil President Roberto Pons ’86 said. Pons said he found it surprising that since his graduation from the University over 25 years ago, not one University president has made a trip down to South America.

“We feel very honored and special that she is taking her time to come to Brazil and do something here at the end of her tenure,” he added.

According to Pons, there are approximately 50 alumni currently residing in Brazil, and every year a growing number of graduate students travel to the region for their studies.

The fall break trip complements recent on-campus initiatives to further the University’s ties with Latin America.

This winter, Monteiro and Biehl will host eight visiting scholars from Brazil at an on-campus colloquium on Feb. 22 and 23. The event will be supplemented by a series of workshops on race and citizenship to take place later in the spring.

In addition, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures will once again offer the Princeton in Brazil program, which debuted last summer. A total of 22 undergraduates participated in the monthlong immersion program, codirected by Monteiro and Director of the Portuguese Language Program Nicola Cooney, last year at the Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos in Rio de Janeiro.

According to Monteiro, the growing interest in Brazilian studies reflects a continued trend of economic and infrastructure development in the region. Brazil will be a media hotspot over the next few years as it hosts both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“This sort of goes parallel with a broader Princeton interest in Brazil,” Monteiro said. “It’s about a new market, it’s about a country that is really growing and a country that has somehow protected its economy from the financial crisis we are still facing here in the United States.”

While a large focus of the trip will be on Brazil, the group plans to visit neighboring institutions in Chile and Argentina as well. Adelman explained that although the University is not currently considering any strategic partnerships in Chile, it is committed to developing relations with close collaborators and colleagues in the area. He noted that a number of graduate alumni hold teaching positions at the Pontificial Catholic University of Chile.

Published: Thursday, October 25th, 2012

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