Sam Houston State University is becoming even more international.
Sam Houston State has entered into a collaborative agreement with the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. Likely areas of cooperative projects are environmental research, criminal justice, law enforcement, teleconferencing and distance learning.
In January 1996 SHSU entered into a similar agreement with the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara's school of medicine.
"We were extremely impressed with many of the programs at the University of Tamaulipas," said Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston president. "They have fully wired classrooms on each of their campuses around the state, for example, and can conduct interactive classes on each campus simultaneously with a single instructor at one site."
Marks said that Ing. Humberto Filizola, chancellor of the University of Tamaulipas, has shown great interest in the project and has been invited to visit the Sam Houston State campus this fall to pursue further discussions concerning possible areas of collaboration. Chancellor Filizola has been especially enthusiastic and helpful in setting up the agreement, said Marks.
Traveling to Mexico this summer for an agreement signing ceremony were Marks; Bill Covington, associate vice president for research and sponsored programs; Tim Flanagan, dean of the College of Criminal Justice; and Michael Warnock, executive director of the Texas Regional Institute for Environmental Studies.
"I see this as a great opportunity for SHSU faculty and students to work with their counterparts in the University of Tamaulipas," said Covington, who made the original contacts which led to the agreement through his wife's family in Mexico. "It should be possible to exchange faculty and students as well as work together on joint research projects."
Flanagan said that he can envision SHSU becoming a "hub" of criminological study, student and faculty exchange, technical assistance and discussion for the North American Free Trade countries (Mexico, USA, Canada).
At Tamaulipas, as in many foreign universities, criminology is organizationally located in the law school, providing a different perspective on law and justice than that found in social/behavioral science-based programs, he said.
"Our colleagues at Tamaulipas are very eager to commence collaborative research and teaching programs," said Flanagan. "We hope to develop, in collaboration with them, a series of 'international congresses' on important crime and justice issues. Also, the prospects for comparative study for our students and faculty are very promising."
Warnock said that the University of Tamaulipas has just begun work in the GIS/Remote Sensing area, while SHSU has used these systems for several years and has just created the Center for Advanced Image Assessment.
"We can assist them in moving from the fledgling stage to fully operational much more quickly than we did," said Warnock. "On the other hand, their operation is fully grounded in practical, on-the-ground applications. We can benefit from that approach, since most of our work to date has been theoretical and not applied."
Both institutions have strong faculty interests in biology/ecology, with each institution located in a different ecological setting with little obvious overlap.
"Students and faculty of both institutions can greatly benefit from exchange of information and visits," said Warnock. "Among their interesting ecological areas, 'El Cielo' is a world-renowned ecological area that they operate."
Warnock said that while the University of Tamaulipas is far ahead of SHSU in traditional distance learning, both institutions are exploring new and more innovative approaches involving more interaction and giving students the capability to access information at their own pace, time and place.
"These newer methods take advantage of technological capabilities not possible in the traditional classroom setting," said Warnock. "They can be used for on-site instruction as well as distance learning per se."
Marks has identified the use of technology for instructional programs as an emphasis of his administration, along with student retention and fund-raising.