(Sept. 7, 2010)--The University of Texas at San Antonio and Kumamoto University have entered into an agreement of cooperation to establish a program of exchange and collaboration. UTSA President Ricardo Romo and Kumamoto University President Isao Taniguchi signed the agreement in a Sept. 3 ceremony at UTSA. The agreement is the result of UTSA's efforts to expand its global network in support of the university's strategic plan, UTSA 2016.
Mitsuo Morozumi, dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Kumamoto University, and Toshihiro Oyamo, assistant manager of the university's International Affairs Office, also traveled from Japan for the event.
The agreement enhances a longstanding relationship between San Antonio and Kumamoto City, which signed a sister-city agreement in 1987. The Kumamoto En Japanese Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, for example, was constructed in 1989 as a gift from San Antonio's sister city in Japan. There have been numerous visits involving city officials, citizens and youth groups between the two cities over the years. In 2009, 10 UTSA architecture students visited Kumamoto during a two-week summer trip to Japan led by Taeg Nishimoto of the UTSA College of Architecture.
"Kumamoto is a beautiful city and a great place for exchange because it's comparable in size to San Antonio and visitors can get a real Japanese experience there," said John Frederick, UTSA provost and vice president for academic affairs. Frederick traveled to Kumamoto in October 2009 to participate in an international college presidential forum hosted by Taniguchi and also to promote collaboration between the two universities.
"Kumamoto University is, in many ways, an ideal partner for us," Frederick continued. "It's a fabulous university with strengths in areas that are relevant to UTSA's own academic strengths and interests."
While in San Antonio, the delegation from Kumamoto University visited with representatives from UTSA's colleges of Architecture, Education and Human Development, Engineering and Public Policy.
In addition to several UTSA administrators, also in attendance at the signing ceremony were Consul General Tsutomu Osawa of the Consulate of Japan in Houston; Beth Costello, international affairs director for the City of San Antonio; and Naoko Shirane, senior adviser to the State of Texas for Japan. Shirane was instrumental in developing the sister-city program in 1987, and her efforts to promote cultural and economic ties with Japan also laid the groundwork for Toyota's decision in 2003 to open an assembly plant in San Antonio.
Kumamoto University has more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including 345 international students from 44 countries.
At UTSA, the establishment of the East Asia Institute in 2008 has helped promote Japan, its language and culture in San Antonio. More than 250 UTSA students study the Japanese language every year, and 29 UTSA students have participated in study-abroad programs in Japan since 2007. Currently, approximately 40 students from Japan are studying at UTSA.
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