A program fostered and nurtured by Landrum Cross, Virginia Tech’s vice president for Student Affairs, has won the Global Partnership Program award in NASPA International Education Knowledge Community’s 3rd Annual Best Practices in International Education and Learning Awards.
"Given the importance of international cooperation in today's global world, I am happy that our program has been recognized as contributing to the understanding and collaborations between countries,” Cross said. “Since Virginia Tech's goals include international education and the Tecnologico de Monterrey promotes international competence for organizations and internationally competitive students in their fields, an agreement of exchange between the two institutions is a good start toward international understanding and cooperation and will benefit the faculty and students of both schools."
The program, Tec-to-Tech Connections: Building an International Partnership between Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and Virginia Tech in the United States, establishes an agreement between the two institutions that promotes international competence in faculty, staff, and students through international opportunities in professional development, research, teaching, and cultural exchange. The program promotes exchanges through the Student Affairs office, through academic areas, and between students of both universities. The partnership promotes staff and student exchanges in food services, student government, resident advising, counseling, community development, higher education, student affairs, and academics.
Tec-to-Tech Connections, inspired by a NASPA program to bring together institutions in the United States and other countries, resulted in a visit in the fall of 2002 by Tecnologico de Monterrey officials to Virginia Tech and other Virginia schools. Both Virginia Tech and the institute in Mexico signed an Inter-Institutional Agreement of Cooperation.
Through the program thus far: => Student government leaders from Virginia Tech attended a leadership conference in 2004 at the Mexican institute; => Tecnologico de Monterrey’s community-development program and Virginia Tech’s equivalent service-learning personnel met for a program in Mexico; => And a group of residence advisers from both schools attended a conference there.
Other activities being explored are a chef and staff exchange; an exchange of resources, particularly on-line resources, between the counseling centers of both institutions; discussions by Higher Education and Student Affairs faculty at Virginia Tech about research and teaching opportunities in Mexico; and discussion of academic exchanges in business, entrepreneurial leadership, engineering, and hospitality and tourism management.
The program requires students who participate at the partner institution to be able to speak the language of that institution. Benefits of the program include a chance for staff to develop language and cultural competencies and the possibility of practicing them through exchanges. Those same staff members will then encourage students to participate. Bringing the students together under the Student Affairs' purview will increase the ability of both institutions to affect students and improve their contributions to their respective missions of study abroad and out-of-class experiences. The program also has the possibility of bridging the gap between student affairs and academic units.
The agreement emphasizes such general activities of mutual interest as student-exchange programs, faculty-staff exchange programs, cultural exchange programs, visiting-scholars exchanges, cooperative and collaborative research projects, double degree programs, short-term training programs and projects, and cooperative and exchange lectures, conferences, and seminars.