Hands Across the Border

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

As part of its global outreach, Michigan Technological University sends students and faculty around the world to undertake initiatives that draw diverse cultures together through academic inquiry. One such program links Michigan Tech with the University of Sonora, one of the leading public universities in Mexico. Since 1992, the two universities have exchanged nearly 60 students and 20 faculty members and developed a variety of research and educational programs.

Leading the Michigan-Mexico connection are Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz and University of Sonora President Pedro Ortega Romero. At its Spring Commencement on May 5, Michigan Tech will award an honorary doctorate in engineering to Pedro Ortega Romero, who is a prominent figure in higher education in Mexico. He is being honored for helping establish the partnership with Tech.

Such international collaboration is critical, according to Mroz: “We live in a global society, and the need to reach beyond national boundaries is vital as we strive to achieve a prosperous and sustainable world for all of us.”

Ortega Romero will receive the honorary degree for his “good will, vision and leadership,” said Tech Professor Alex Mayer, who nominated the Mexican university president for the award. Mayer described him as “a tireless promoter” of the unique relationship between Michigan Tech and the University of Sonora, calling him “hardworking, dedicated and brilliant,” someone who has an abiding concern for students.

Mayer explained that the partnership between Michigan Tech and the University of Sonora exposes faculty and students at both schools to “different cultures and environments” in pursuit of solutions to common problems. Joint research includes, for example, multidisciplinary advances in water resources and sanitation.

Ortega Romero, who has been president of the University of Sonora since 2001, led the university to prominence in Mexico for its academic programs, research and administrative procedures. Before assuming the presidency, he served as director of research and the graduate program, as provost and as vice president.

As president, he has acquired accreditation for more than 30 new undergraduate and graduate programs; vigorously recruited nationally recognized professors; dramatically increased the student graduation rate and achieved national recognition of the institution for effective and efficient management. In 2006, the Mexican National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education Superior honored the University of Sonora for its excellence in academic development and institutional effectiveness.

Ortega Romero’s stature extends to the public sector: political leaders seek his counsel in the development of state and federal policy on higher education.

Ortega Romero earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Sonora and a master of science and a doctoral degree in marine sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Known in the field of chemical oceanography, he has conducted research on the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.

His priorities at the University of Sonora mirror some of Michigan Tech’s: a commitment to education, science and technology to improve the world; the transfer of technology from the university to the private sector; the importance of social service; and, overall, the attainment of prosperity through partnerships like the Tech-Sonora connection.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.