Wrighton visits Chile, promotes higher education partnerships

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton was among a delegation of eight college and university presidents who traveled with U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to Chile and Brazil Aug. 18-24 to promote higher education partnerships and exchanges between the United States and Latin America.

The delegation met with current Chilean students and young professionals who had studied in the United States. Meetings with Chilean university, government and business leaders were also held to help build educational partnerships and to increase the number of Latin American students studying in the United States.

“This trip to Chile was important in continuing to encourage students from other countries to pursue higher education in the United States,” said Wrighton. “In our increasingly global society, it has become critical that our own graduates are able to understand and navigate the international community in which they live.

“In addition to encouraging our students to study abroad, I am very interested in attracting scholars from Latin America and around the world to pursue their studies at Washington University. It was a privilege to be selected to join Secretary Spellings and the rest of the delegation on this trip.”

During the visit to Santiago, Chile, Wrighton and the other members of the delegation participated in a bilateral discussion with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at the Presidential Palace.

They also met with the Minister of Education Yasna Provoste and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Alejandro Foxley, who discussed a new initiative to sponsor up to 100 doctoral students from diverse backgrounds for study in the United States.

The chancellor recently endorsed the initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the Chilean Foreign Ministry that will target highly talented Chileans for graduate work in U.S. universities in fields that are vital to Chile’s future: science and technology, environment and public health.

“Washington University’s interests in international higher education led me to enthusiastically endorse this initiative,” said Wrighton.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate, and look forward to having talented students from Chile apply for admission to our Ph.D. programs.

“We already enjoy relationships in Chile with our undergraduate study abroad programs, and we have a substantial number of alumni — both from undergraduate and graduate programs — in Chile and Latin America, broadly,” Wrighton added.

While in Chile, Wrighton, Secretary Spellings and President Gregory L. Geoffroy of Iowa State University addressed members of the Federation of Chilean Industry, highlighting the importance of international education and private-sector partnerships in 21st-century workforce development.

In addition, the delegation participated in an awards ceremony for more than 250 Chilean post-graduate students receiving scholarships to study abroad, and met with Fulbright Program alumni, who shared their experiences of studying in the United States.

Wrighton did not travel on to Brazil because he didn’t want to miss orientation activities for the freshman class, including delivering the welcome address at last Thursday’s Convocation. He had visited Brazil earlier this summer, participating in a joint U.S.-Brazil summit on innovation, organized by the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and its counterpart in Brazil.