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Cambodia agreement
Cambodia agreement
Top photo: Associate Professor Wayne Wright (left) and Betty
Merchant (right), dean of the College of Education and Human
Development, watch as President Ricardo Romo signs an agreement
with Cambodian universities. (Photo by Mark McClendon)
Bottom photo: Wayne Wright greets Chantham Chea, president of
Pannasastra University in Cambodia.

UTSA collaborates with Cambodian universities on research, teaching, study abroad

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Aug. 7, 2009)--In an effort to extend global outreach, UTSA President Ricardo Romo signed agreements with two Cambodian universities, which will allow faculty and students from the three universities to collaborate in research, teaching and participation in study abroad programs.

"I think it's really important for our students to get to know the rest of the world," said Romo. "We would be left behind if we didn't try to be a bit more proactive in setting up programs that would allow the students to see other parts of the world. We need to take advantage of these kinds of connections with other universities and let our students reap the benefits of those kinds of networks."

One memorandum of understanding is with Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Cambodia's first and largest university. After opening in 1960, it was shut down from 1975 to 1979, along with all other schools and universities, by the Khmer Rouge. The university reopened in 1980. The second agreement is with Pannasastra University, a prestigious private university opened in 2000 by Cambodian Americans who fled the country because of the genocide. They returned to their home country with advanced degrees and started the university.

The collaborative efforts began earlier this year when Wayne Wright, UTSA associate professor of bicultural-bilingual studies, traveled on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at RUPP in the master of education program. Wright, who is fluent in Cambodian, chose the country in order to contribute to the rebuilding of the education system devastated by genocide and decades of civil war. Additionally, he was able to introduce his children to the Cambodian language, history and culture and reconnect with his wife's family who live near the capital.

"I'll be supervising five master's students on their theses at RUPP and finishing up a research project I started with one of the faculty members there," said Wright. "My hope is to find funding to support a big collaborative research project related to teacher training in Cambodia that can involve all three universities."

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