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Dean in Colombia to Strenghthen Business, Government and Academic Ties

March 03, 2011
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Interim Dean Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa,
Indupalma President Ruben Dario Lizarralde
(MSPM '99) and UM President Donna E. Shalala

On March 1, a delegation from the University of Miami — led by President Donna E. Shalala and including Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, interim dean of the School of Business — met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and several of his key ministers at the Presidential Palace in Bogotá. The meeting was one of the highlights of a three-day trip to Colombia that sought to affirm the University’s role as a key resource for the region and to strengthen existing ties there.

“One of the School’s most important assets — that sets us apart — is our ability to act as a connector for Latin America and the rest of the world,” Sevilla-Sacasa said. “Our strategic location, our strong ties to the region, and our strengths in international research and education uniquely position us as the platform for the Americas.”

The presidential visit was among many meetings with government and industry leaders. On behalf of UM, President Shalala accepted the Colombian Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor given to an institution. Colombian Senator Efrain Torrado Garcia, a student in the School’s Spanish-language Master of Science in Professional Management program, presided over the ceremony.

“The Congressional Medal of Honor will always represent the bond of friendship and mutual respect between the people of Colombia and our University,” Shalala said in her remarks, noting UM’s founding 85 years ago as a center of higher learning with a Pan-American mission. Shalala also received the key to the City of Cartagena, where she, Sevilla-Sacasa and the entire delegation attended the groundbreaking of the new Bocagrande Hospital.

The delegation also visited the Universidad de Los Andes to explore potential collaboration opportunities with the School of Business and UM’s Miller School of Medicine. Meanwhile, the School of Business held a reception for alumni, organized in part by Ruben Dario Lizarralde, MSPM ’99, the president of Indupalma. Sevilla-Sacasa also addressed the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce, where the heads of the nation’s largest companies were in attendance.

The Colombia trip was made possible through the work and generosity of Daniel Haime Gutt, president of Bogotá-based Grasco Group. Haime and his wife, Kathy F. Haime, AB ’83, have been involved with the School of Business for several years, and funded the School’s Haime Endowment for international scholars.

The trip was an opportunity for the School to cement key relationships and foster new ones in an important country in Latin America. “We were very well received,” Sevilla-Sacasa said. “Colombia is poised to do very well economically, and we believe we can play an important role — through research and education — in fostering economic growth there. We should be the region’s ‘go-to’ school for business education and other initiatives that support this shared interest.”

by Tristram Korten

View photos of this event on Flickr

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