SAN MARCOS — Southwest Texas State University has signed an agreement with Mexico’s largest university to allow joint research projects between the schools, beginning with a major effort to ensure sustainable water resources along the Rio Grande.
The agreement is between SWT and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, a 200,000-student institution that is the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere.
The partnership is initially aimed at allowing teaching and research partnerships and faculty and student exchanges for scientific work related to environmental and water resource issues, but expansion to include other academic interests is likely.
“We envision a collaboration in all aspects of our work here on campus, but this was initiated because of the current interest in water on both sides of the border,” said Jaime Chahin, dean of SWT’s College of Applied Arts. Chahin led the SWT negotiating team, along with Andrew Sansom, director of SWT’s International Institute for Sustainable Water Resources.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs was instrumental in nurturing the partnership between the two universities and said it will benefit citizens of both neighboring countries.
“As one of our most valuable natural resources, dependable water supplies are important to the economic development of Texas and Mexico and the survival of rural communities,” Combs said. “Cooperative research and the exchange of innovative ideas to enhance water resources will greatly benefit both countries.”
Sansom said the first joint project to be undertaken will be a major program of research on the Rio Grande to devise sustainable means of providing sufficient supplies of water in Mexico and the United States while protecting the environment at the same time. Representatives of both universities are currently seeking funding from the United Nations to support the research effort.
Faculty members from SWT have made three trips to Mexico City so far and Sansom said he expects UNAM faculty members to make their initial visit to San Marcos later this spring.