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Maine Maritime Academy to Strengthen Puerto Rico University Alliance

By MarEx 2011-10-05 10:21:22

Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) and the college’s Loeb-Sullivan School of International Business and Logistics will host a contingent of more than 20 students, faculty, and administrators from Puerto Rico in early October. The upcoming visit, scheduled for Oct. 11-16, will serve to strengthen the college’s ongoing relationship with the Catholic Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (CPUPR), located in Ponce with campuses in Bayamón and Arecibo. In addition to students and faculty, the visiting party will include Dr. Jorge Vélez-Arocho, president of CPUPR.

Dr. William DeWitt, dean of MMA’s Loeb-Sullivan School, and Dr. Elaine Potoker, director of Caribbean and Central American outreach for MMA, and faculty host of the special visit, have arranged a number of programs to facilitate the exchange of ideas on various topics of mutual interest at administrative, faculty, and student levels. Focused panels and lectures will explore contemporary events and measures impacting transportation and logistics in Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America. Dedicated discussion time will surround the advancement of mutual faculty and student exchanges, and explore possibilities for the expansion of distance education.

The collaboration of the two institutions was conceived in 2004 to attract sustainable enrollment to both colleges on site and, more recently, through distance education. With the formal adoption of Memorandums of Understanding in 2006 and 2007, and a renewal of agreement in 2011, this important strategic alliance for both institutions taps the specialization and expertise of Maine Maritime Academy to meet the particular needs of Puerto Rico’s island economy and potential for maritime trade growth in response to expansion of the Panama Canal.  It also provides for a diplomatically friendly environment in which to offer significant exposure to cultural diversity, and student and faculty exchanges in several program areas, including foreign language, maritime trade and operations, and international business.

According to organizers, the MMA community has rallied behind the upcoming visit at all levels of the college. The recent formation of a new student club, International Student Ambassadors (ISA) in preparation for the visit will provide one-on-one hosts for the 13 graduate and undergraduate students from Puerto Rico. “The energy around the visit has been tremendous,” said Potoker. “Our friends and business partners in education, including the Port of Portland and L.L. Bean, have volunteered to showcase Maine’s international business climate in action through on-site tours. Our dining service team will offer Puerto Rican-themed meals in celebration of this exchange, and our mutual heritage of the sea will be embraced in a sail aboard our schooner Bowdoin.”

Throughout their stay on campus, students from Puerto Rico will attend class with MMA’s ISA student volunteers, while administrators and faculty meet to discuss goals and processes for advanced educational cooperatives.  All will join together to participate in a transportation and logistics workshop that will feature a series of integrated faculty panel discussions centered on key contemporary issues. The academic exchange will culminate with a special lecture on Thurs., Oct. 13, at 4 p.m., Delano Auditorium, Leavitt Hall. Dr. Jaime Santiago, dean of the CPUPR College of Business administration, will present a lecture entitled, “Impact of Panama Canal on Shipping in Caribbean/South America and the U.S. Northeast.” The lecture will be open to the public and members of the community are encouraged to attend.

Friday’s activities will find guests on tours of L.L. Bean’s order fulfillment center in Freeport, and at Maine’s largest seaport, the Port of Portland. Scenic and recreational activities on Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park will round out the last day of the visit. The group also hopes to experience apple picking in Maine. Guests of the college will return to Puerto Rico on Sun., Oct. 16.